Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

take for sincerity, and he had but one eye, which you may certainly expect to arrive at a region of was ríxed in the middle of his forehead.

pleasure. Servant of Hormizda, cried he, approaching the Thus saying, and the traveller's eyes being mortal pilgrim, if thou art travelling to the Land covered, the demon, muttering curses, raised him of Certainty, how is it possible to arrive there un- on his back, and instantly upborne by his strong der the guidance of a genius, who proceeds for pinions, directed his flight among the clouds. Neiward so slowly, and is so little acquainted with the ther the loudest thunder, nor the most angry temway? Follow me, we shall soon perform the pest, could persuade the traveller to unbind his journey to where every pleasure waits our arrival. eyes. The demon directed his flight downwards,

The peremptory tone in which this genius spoke, and skimmed the surface of the ocean; a thousand and the speed with which he moved forward, in- voices, some with loud invectives, others in the duced the traveller to change liis conductor, and sarcastic tones of contempt, vainly endeavoured to leaving his modest companion behind, he proceed-persuade him to look round; but he still continued ed forward with his more confident director, seem- to keep his eyes covered, and would in all probaing not a little pleased at the increased velocity of bility have arrived at the happy land, had not flathis motion.

tery effected what other means could not perform. But soon he found reasons to repent. When- For now he heard himself welcomed on every side ever a torrent crossed their way, his guide taught to the promised land, and a universal shout of joy him to despise the obstacle by plunging him in; was sent forth at his safe arrival. The wearied whenever a precipice presented, he was directed to traveller

, desirous of seeing the long wished for fling himself forward. Thus each moment miracu- country, at length pulled the fillet from his eyes, lously escaping, his repeated escapes only served and ventured to look round him. But he had unto increase his temerity. He led him therefore loosed the band too soon; he was not yet above forward, amidst infinite difficulties, till they arrived half-way over. The demon, who was still hoverat the borders of an ocean, which appeared innavi- ing in the air, and had produced those sounds only gable from the black mists that lay upon its sur- in order to deceive, was now freed from his comface. Its unquiet waves were of the darkest hue, mission ; wherefore throwing the astonished traveland gave a lively representation of the various agi- ler from his back, the unhappy youth fell headlong tations of the human mind.

into the subjacent Ocean of Doubts, from whence The Genius of Probability now confessed his he never after was seen to rise. temerity, owned his being an improper guide to the Land of Certainty, a country where no mortal had ever been permitted to arrive; but at the same

LETTER XXXVIIL time offered to supply the traveller with another conductor, who should carry him to the Land of From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the Confidence, a region where the inhabitants lived Ceremonial Academy at Pekin in China. with the utmost tranquillity, and tasted almost as When Parmenio, the Grecian, had done somemuch satisfaction as if in the Land of Certainty. thing which excited a universal shout from the Not waiting for a reply, he stamped three times on surrounding multitude, he was instantly struck the ground, and called forth the Demon of Error, with the doubt, that what had their approbation a gloomy fiend of the servants of Arimanes. The must certainly be wrong; and turning to a philosoyawning earth gave up the reluctant savage, who pher who stood near him, Pray, sir, says he, parseemed unable to bear the light of the day. His don me; I fear I hare been guilty of some abstature was enormous, his colour black and hideous, surdity. his aspect betrayed a thousand varying passions, You know that I am not less than him a despiser and he spread forth pinions that were fitted for the of the multitude; you know that I equally detest most rapid flight. The traveller at first was shock- flattery to the great; yet so many circumstances ed at the spectre; but finding him obedient to su- have concurred to give a lustre to the latter part of perior power, he assumed his former tranquillity. the present English monarch's reign, that I can not

I have called you to duty, cries the genius to the withhold my contribution of praise ; I can not avoid demon, to bear on your baek a son of mortality the acknowledging the crowd, for once, just in their over the Ocean of Doubts, into the Land of Con- unanimous approbation. Rdence: I expect you'll perform your commission Yet think not that battles gained, dominion exwith punctuality. And as for you, continued the tended, or enemies brought to submission, are the genius, addressing the traveller, when once I have virtues which at present claim my admiration. bound this fillet round your eyes, let no voice of Were the reigning monarch only famous for his persuasion, nor threats the most terrifying, per- victories, I should regard his character with indifsuradle you to unbind it in order to look round; keep ference: the boast of heroism in this enlightened the filet filet, look not at the ocean below, and age is justly regarded as a qualification of a very subordinate rank, and mankind now begin to look punishment; however, he was arraigned, condemn. with becoming horror on these foes to man. The ed, and underwent the same degrading death with virtue in this aged monarch which I have at pre- the meanest malefactor. It was well considered sent in view, is one of a much more exalted nature, that virtue alone is true nobility; and that he whose is one of the most difficult of attainment, is the least actions sink him even beneath the vulgar, has no praised of all kingly virtues, and yet deserves the right to those distinctions which should be the regreatest praise; the virtue I mean is JustiCE; strict ward only of merit: it was perhaps considered that administration of justice, without severity and with- crimes were more heinous among the higher classes out favour.

of people, as necessity exposes them to fewer lempOf all virtues this is the most difficult to be prac- tations. tised by a king who has a power to pardon. All Over all the East, even China not excepted, a men, even tyrants themselves, lean to mercy when person of the same quality, guilty of such a crime, unbiassed by passions or interest ; the heart natural- might, by giving up a share of his fortune to the ly persuades to forgiveness, and pursuing the dic- judge, buy off his sentence. There are several lates of this pleasing deceiver, we are led to prefer countries, even in Europe, where the servant is 'our private satisfaction to public utility. What a entirely the property of his master: if a slave kills thorough love for the public, what a strong com- his lord, he dies by the most excruciating tortures; mand over the passions, what a finely conducted but if the circumstances are reversed, a small fine judgment must he possess, who opposes the dic- buys off the punishment of the offender. Happy tates of reason to those of his heart, and prefers the the country where all are equal, and where those future interest of his people to his own immediate who sit as judges have too much integrity to receive satisfaction?

a bribe, and too much honour to pity from a similiIf still to a man's own natural bias for tender-tude of the prisoner's title or circumstances with derness, we add the numerous solicitations made their own. Such is England: yet think not that by a criminal's friends for mercy; if we survey a it was always equally famed for this strict impartiking not only opposing his own feelings, but reality. There was a time, even here, when title luctantly refusing those he regards, and this to softened the rigours of the law, when dignified satisfy the public, whose cries he may never hear, wretches were suffered to live, and continue for whose gratitude he may never receive, this surely years an equal disgrace to justice and nobility. is true greatness ! Let us fancy ourselves for a To this day, in a neighbouring country, the great moment in this just old man's place, surrounded are often most scandalously pardoned for the most by numbers, all soliciting the same favour, a favour scandalous offences. A person is still alive among that nature disposes us to grant, where the induce-them who has more than once deserved the most ments to' pity are laid before us in the strongest ignominious severity of justice. His being of the light, suppliants at our feet, some ready to resent bloud royal, however, was thought a sufficient atonea refusal, none opposing a compliance; let us, 1 ment for his being a disgrace to humanity. This say, suppose ourselves in such a situation, and 1 remarkable personage took pleasure in shooting at fancy we should find ourselves more apt to act the the passengers below from the top of his palace; character of good-natured men than of upright and in this most princely amusement he usually magistrates

spent some time every day. He was at length ar. What contributes to raise justice above all other raigned by the friends of a person whom in this kingly virtues is, that it is seldom attended with a manner he had killed, was found guilty of the due share of applause, and those who practise it charge, and condemned to die. His merciful monmust be influenced by greater motives than empty arch pardoned him, in consileration of his rank fame: the people are generally well pleased with a and quality. The unrepenting criminal soon after remission of punishment, and all that wears the renewed his usual entertainment, and in the same appearance of humanity; it is the wise alone who manner killed another man. He was a seconů are capable of discerning that impartial justice is time condemned; and, strange to think, a second the truest mercy: they know it to be very difficult, time received his majesty's pardon! Would you at once to compassionate, and yet condemn an ob- believe it? A third time the very same man was ject that pleads for tenderness.

guilty of the very same offence; a third time, thereI have been led into this common-place train of fore, the laws of his country found him guilty:-) thought by a late striking instance in this country wish, for the honour of humanity, I could suppress of the impartiality of justice, and of the king's in- the rest—a third time he was pardoned! Will you flexible resolution of inflicting punishment where not think such a story too extraordinary for belief? it was justly due. A man of the first quality, in will you not think me describing the savage inhabia fit either of passion, melancholy, or madness, tants of Congo? Alas! the story is but too true ; murdered his servant: it was expected that his sta- and the country where it was transacted regarda lion in life would have lessened thc ignominy of his itself as the politest in Europe! Adieu.

in his face gave me as much pleasure as a pairLETTER XXXIX.

royal of naturals in my own hand. He waited on

mamma and me the next morning to know how erom Lien Chi Altangi 10", Merchant in Amsterdam.

we got home: you must know the insidious devil CEREMONIES are different in every country; but makes love to us both. Rap went the footman at true politeness is every where the same. Ceremo- the door; bounce went my heart: I thought he nies, which take up so much of our attention, are would have rattled the house down. Chariot drove only artificial helps which ignorance assumes, in up to the window, with his footmen in the prettiest order to imitate politeness, which is the result of liveries; he has infinite taste, that is Mat. Mamma good sense and good nature. A person possessed had spent all the morning at her head; but for my of those qualities, though he had never seen a court, part I was in an undress to receive him; quite easy. is truly agreeable; and if without them would con- mind that; no way disturbed at his approach: tinue a clown, though he had been all his life a mamma pretended to be as dégagée as 1; and yet gentleman usher.

I saw her blush in spite of her. Positively he is a How would a Chinese, bred up in the formalities most killing devil! We did nothing but laugh all of an Eastern Court, be regarded, should he carry the time he staid with us; I never heard so many all his good manners beyond the Great Wall ? very good things before : at first he mistook mamma How would an Englishman, skilled in all the de- for my sister; at which she laughed: then he miscorums of Western good-breeding, appear at an took my natural complexion for paint; at which I Eastern entertainment would he not be reckoned laughed: and then he showed us a picture in the more fantastically savage than even his unbred lid of his snuff-box, at which we all laughed. He footman?

plays piquet so very ill, and is so very fond of cards, Ceremony resembles that base coin which circu- and loses with such a grace, that positively he has lates through a country by the royal mandate; it won me: I have got a cool hundred; but have lost serves every purpose of real money at home, but is my heart. I need not tell you that he is only a entirely useless if carried abroad : a person who colonel of the train-bands. I am, dear Charlotte, should attempt to circulate his native trash in ano- yours for ever,

BELINDA, ther country, would be thought either ridiculous or culpable. He is truly well-bred, who knows when The Chinese lady addresses ner confidant, a poor to value and when to despise those national pecu- relation of the family, upon the same occasion ; in liarities, which are regarded by some with so much which she seems to understand decorums even betobservance: a traveller of taste at once perceives ter than the Western beauty. You, who have rethat the wise are polite all the world over, but that sided so long in China, will readily acknowledge fools are polite only at home.

the picture to be taken from nature; and, by being I have now before me two very fashionable let-acquainted with the Chinese customs, will better ters upon the same subject, both written by ladies apprehend the lady's meaning. of distinction; one of whom leads the fashion in

FROM YAOUA TO YAYA. England, and the other sets the ceremonies of China: they are both regarded in their respective Papa insists upon one, two, three, four hundred countries, by all the beau monde, as standards of taels from the colonel my lover, before he parts taste, and models of true politeness, and both give with a lock of my hair. Ho, how I wish the dear us a true idea of what they imagine elegant in their creature may be able to produce the money, and admirers: which of them understands true polite- pay papa my fortune. The colonel is reckoned ness, or whether either, you shall be at liberty to the politest man in all Shensi. The first visit he determine. The English lady writes thus to her paid at our house, mercy, what stooping, and cringfemale confidant:

ing, and stopping, and fidgeting, and going back,

and creeping forward, there was between him and As I live, my dear Charlotte, I believe the colo- papa; one would have thought he had got the sevennel will carry it at last; he is a most irresistible fel- teen books of ceremonies all by heart. When he low, that is flat. So well dressed, so neat, so was come into the hall he flourished his hands three sprightly, and plays about one so agreeably, that I times in a very graceful manner. Papa, who would vow, he has as much spirits as the Marquis of not be outdone flourished his four times; upon this Monkeyman's Italian greyhound. I first saw him the colonel began again, and both thus continued at Ranelagh; he shines there: he is nothing with- Pourishing for some minutes in the politest manner out Ranelagh, and Ranelagh nothing without him. imaginable. I was posted in the usual place beThe next day he sent a card and compliments, de- hind the screen, where I saw the whole ceremony siring to wait on mamma and me to the music sub- through a slit. Of this the colonel was sensible, scription. He looked all the time with such irre- for papa informed him. I would have given the sistible impudence, that positively be had something world to have shown him my little shoes, but had

From the Samne.

no opportunity. It was the first time I had ever whom we bought that and our ribands cheated 128 the happiness of seeing any man but papa, and I as if she had no conscience, and so to quiet mine i vow, my dear Yaya, I thought my three souls cheated her. All this is fair, you know. I remain, would actually have fled from my lips. Ho, but my dear Yaya, your ever faithful

YAOUA. he looked most charmingly; he is reckoned the best shaped man in the whole province, for he is very fat, and very short; but even those natural advantages are improved by his dress, which is

LETTER XL. fashionable past description. His head was close shaven, all but the crown, and the hair of that was braided into a most beautiful tail, that reached You have always testified the highest esteem down to his heels, and was terminated by a bunch for the English poets, and thought, them not infe of yellow roses. Upon his first entering the room, rior to the Greeks

, Romans, or even the Chinese, I could easily perceive he had been highly perfum- in the art. But it is now thought even by the ed with assafoetida. But then his looks, his looks, English themselves, that the race of their poets is my dear Yaya, were irresistible. He kept his extinct; every day produces some pathetic exclaeyes steadfastly fixed on the wall during the whole mation upon the decadence of taste and genius. ceremony, and I sincerely believe no accident could Pegasus, say they, has slipped the brille from have discomposed his gravity, or drawn his eyes his mouth, and our modern bards attempt to direct away. After a polite silence of two hours, he his flight by catching him by the tail. gallantly begged to have the singing women in- Yet, my friend, it is only among the ignorant troduced, purely for my amusement. After one that such discourses prevail; men of true discernof them had for some time entertained us with her ment can see several poets still among the English voice, the coloneland she retired for some minutes to some of whom equal if not surpass their predecesgether. I thought they would never have come back : sors. The ignorant term that alone poetry which I must own he is a most agreeable creature. Upon is couched in a certain number of syllables in every his return, they again renewed the concert, and line, where a vapid thought is drawn out into a he continued to gaze upon the wall as usual, when number of verses of equal length, and perhaps in less than half an hour more, ho! but he retired pointed with rhymes at the end. But glowing out of the room with another. He is indeed a sentiment, striking imagery, concise expression, most agreeable creature.

natural description, and modulated periods, are full When he came to take his leave, the whole sufficient entirely to fill up my idea of this art, and ceremony began afresh ; papa would see him to make way to every passion. the door, but the colonel swore he would rather see If my idea of poetry therefore be just, the Engthe earth turned upside down than permit him to lish are not at present so destitute of poetical merit stir a single step, and papa was at last obliged to as they seem to imagine. I can see several poets comply. As soon as he was got to the door, papa in disguise among them; men furnished with that went out to see him on horseback ; here they con- strength of soul, sublimity of sentiment, and grantinued half an hour bowing and cringing, before deur of expression, which constitute the character. one would mount or the other go in, but the colo- Many of the writers of their modern odes, sonnets, nel was at last victorious. He had scarce gone a tragedies, or rebuses, it is true, deserve not the hundred paces from the house, when papa, run- name, though they have dono nothing but clink ning out, halloo'd after him, A good journey ; up-rhymes and measure syllables for years together : on which the colonel returned, and would see their Johnsons and Smollets are truly poets ; though papa into his house before ever he would depart. for aught I know they never made a single verse He was no sooner got home than he sent me a in their whole lives. very fine present of duck eggs painted of twenty In every incipient language, the poet and the different colours. His generosity I own has won prose writer are very distinct in their qualificame. I have ever since been trying over the eight tions; the poet ever proceeds first ; treading un. letters of good fortune, and have great hopes. All beaten paths, enriching his native funds, and emI have to apprehend is, that after he has married ployed in new adventures. The other follows with me, and that I am carried to his house close shut more cautious steps, and though slow in his moup in my chair, when he comes to have the first tions, treasures up every useful or pleasing discosight of my face, he may shut me up a second time very. But when once all the extent and the forca and send me back to papa. However, I shall ap- of the language is known, the poet then seems to pear as fine as possible : mamma and I have been to rest from his labour, and is at length overtaken by buy the clothes for ny welding. I am to have a his assiduous pursuer. Both characters are then new fong whang in my hair, the beak of which blended into one; the historian and orator catch will reach down to my nose ; the milliner from all the poet's fire, and leave him no real mark of

distinction, except the iteration of numbers regu-soleum of the kings and heroes of this nation: I larly returning. Thus, in the decline of ancient have since been introduced to a temple not so anEuropean learning, Seneca, though he wrote in cient, but far superiour in beauty and magnificence prose, is as much a poet as Lucan, and Longinus, In this, which is the most considerable of the emthough but a critic, more sublime than Apollonius. pire, there are o pompous inscriptions, no flattery

From this then it appears, that poetry is not paid the dead, but all is elegant and awfully simple. discontinued, but altered among the English at pre. There are, however, a few rags hung round the sent; the outward fem seems different from what walls, which have, at a vast expense, heen taken it was, but poetry still continues internally the from the enemy in the present war. The silk of the same: the only question remains, whether the which they are composed, when new, might be metric feet used by the good writers of the last age valued at half a string of copper money in China ; or the prosaic numbers employed by the good yet this wise people fitted out a flect and an army writers of this, be preferable ? And here the prac- in order to seize them, though now grown old, and tice of the last age appears to me superior: they scarcely capable of being patched up into a handsubmitted to the restraint of numbers and similar kerchief. By this conquest, ine English are said sounds : and this restraint, instead of diminishing, to have gained, and the French to have lost, much augmented the force of their sentiment and style. honour. Is the honour of European nations placed Fancy restrained may be compared to a fountain, only in tattered silk ? which plays highest by diminishing the aperture. In this temple I was permitted to remain during Of the truth at this maxim in every language, the whole service; and were you not already acevery fine writer is perfectly sensible from his own quainted with the religion of the English, you experience, and yet to explain the reason would might

, from my description, be inclined to believe be perhaps as difficult as to make a frigid genius them as grossly idolatrous as the disciples of Lao. profit by the discovery.

The idol which they seem to address, strides like a There is still another reason in favour of the colossus over the door of the inner temple, which practice of the last age, to be drawn from the va- here, as with the Jews, is esteemed the most sacred riety of modulation. The musical period in prose part of the building. Its oracles are delivered in a is confined to a very few changes: the numbers in hundred various tones, which seem to inspire the verse are capable of infinite variation. I speak not worshippers with enthusiasm and awe: an old now from the practice of modern verse-writers, few woman, who appeared to be the priestess, was emof whom have any idea of musical variety, but run ployed in various attitudes as she felt the inspiraon in the same monotonous flow through the whole tion. When it began to speak, all the people re. poem; but rather from the example of their former mained fixed in silent attention, nodding assent, poets, who were tolerable masters of this variety, looking approbation, appearing highly edified by and also froin a capacity in the language of still those sounds which to a stranger might seem inaradmitting various unanticipated music.

ticulate and unmeaning. Several rules have been drawn up for varying When the idol had done speaking, and the the poetic measure, and critics have elaborately priestess had locked up its lungs with a key, obtalked of accents and syllables; but good sense and serving almost all the company leaving the temple, a fine ear, which 'rules can never teach, are what I concluded the service was over, and taking my alone can in such a case determine. The raptur. hat, was going to walk away with the crowd, when ous flowings of joy, or the interruptions of in- I was stopped by the man in black, who assured dignation, require accents placed entirely different, me that the ceremony had scarcely yet begun! and a structure consonant to the emotions they What, cried I, do I not see almost the whole would express. Changing passions, and numbers hody of the worshippers leaving the church? changing with those passions, make the whole Would you persuade me that such numbers who secret of Western as well as Eastern poetry. In profess religion and morality, would, in this shamea word, the great faults of the modern prosessed less manner, quit the temple before the service was English poets are, that they seem to want numbers concluded? You surely mistake: not even the which should vary with the passion, and are more Kalmucks would be guilty of such an indecency, employed in describing to the imagination than though all the object of their worship was but a striking at the heart.

joint-strol. My friend seemed to blush for his countrymen, assuring me that those whom I saw

running away, were only a parcel of musical block. LETTER XLI.

heads, whose passion was merely for sounds, and whose heads were as empty as a fiddle-case: those

who remain behind, says he, are the true religious, Some time since I sent thee, O holy disciple of they make use of music to warm their hearts, and Confucius, an account of the grand abbey or mau- to lift them to a proper pitch of rapture : exwina

From the Same.

« AnteriorContinuar »