« AnteriorContinuar »
tily?--but pray, what are the green eyes to the the whole story three times over; for she was hard purpose, except to amuse children? I would give of hearing. Well,” says the old fairy, for such a thousand guineas to lay on the colouring of this she was, “I promise to put you in possession of cheek more smoothly. But I ask pardon ; pray, the white mouse with green eyes, and that immesir, proceed.
diately too, upon one condition.” “One condi
tion,” cried the prince in a rapture, "name a thou
sand; I shall undergo them all with pleasure." LETTER XLIX.
" Nay," interrupted the old fairy, “I ask but one,
and that not very mortifying neither; it is only From the Same.
that you instantly consent to marry me." Kixga, continued I, at that time were different It is impossible to express the Prince's confusion from what they are now; they then never engaged at this demand; he loved the mouse, but he detesttheir word for any thing which they did not rigor-ed the bride; he hesitated; he desired time to think ously intend to perform. This was the case of upon the proposal : he would have been glad to Bonbennin, who continued all night to lament his consult his friends on such an occasion, Nay, misfortunes to the Princess, who echoed groan for nay," cried the odious fairy, "if you demur, I regroan. When morning came, he published an tract my promise ; I do not desire to force my faedict, offering half his kingdom, and his Princess, vours on any man. Here, you my attendants," to the person who should catch and bring him the cried she, stamping with her foot, "let my mawhite mouse with the green eyes.
chine be driven up; Barbacela, Queen of Emmets, The edict was scarcely published, when all the is not used to contemptuous treatment.” She had traps in the kingdom were baited with cheese; no sooner spoken, than her fiery chariot appeared numberless mice were taken and destroyed; but in the air, drawn by two snails ; and she was just still the much-wished-for mouse was not among going to step in, when the Prince reflected, that the number. The privy-council was assembled now or never was the time to be possessed of the more than once to give their advice; but all their white mouse; and quite forgetting his lawful Prin. deliberations came to nothing; even though there cess Nanhoa, falling on his knees, he implored were two complete vermin-killers, and three pro- forgiveness for having rashly rejected so much fessed rat-catchers of the number. Frequent ad- beauty. This well-timed compliment instantly apdresses, as is usual on extraordinary occasions, peased the angry fairy. She affected a hideous were sent from all parts of the empire; but though leer of approbation, and taking the young Prince these promised well, though in them he received an by the hand, conducted him to a neighbouring assurance, that his faithful subjects would assist in church, where they were married together in a his search with their lives and fortunes, yet, with moment. As soon as the ceremony was performall their loyalty, they failed when the time came ed, the prince, who was to the last degree desirous that the mouse was to be caught.
of seeing his favourite mouse, reminded the bride The Prince, therefore, was resolved to go him- of her promise. “To confess a truth, my Prince," seit in search, determined never to lie two nights cried she, “I myself am that very white mouse in one place, till he had found what he sought for. you saw on your wedding-night in the royal apartThus, quitting his palace without attendants, he ment. I now, therefore, give you the choice, wheset out upon his journey, and travelled through ther you would have me a mouse by day, and a many a desert, and crossed many a river, over high woman by night, or a mouse by night, and a wohills, and down along vales, still restless, still in. man by day.” Though the Prince was an excelquiring wherever he came; but no white mouse lent casuist, he was quite at a loss how to deterwas to be found.
mine, but at last thought it most prudent to have As one day, fatigued with his journey, he was recourse to a blue cat that had followed him from shading himself from the heat of the mid-day sun, his own dominions, and frequently amused him 'inder the arching branches of a banana tree, medi- with its conversation, and assisted him with its adtating on the object of his pursuit, he perceived an vice; in fact, this cat was no other than the faithold woman, hideously deformed, approaching him; ful Princess Nanhoa herself, who had shared with by her stoop, and the wrinkles of her visage, she him all his hardships in this disguise. seemed at least five hundred years old; and the By her instructions he was determined in his spotted toad was not more freckled than was her choice, and returning to the old fairy, prudently skin. “Ah! Prince Bonbennin-bonbobbin-bon- observed, that as she must have been sensible he bobbinet," cried the creature, “what has led you had married her only for the sake of what she had, 80 many thousand miles from your own kingdom ? and not for her personal qualifications, he thought what is it you look for, and what induces you to it would for several reasons be most convenient, if travel into the kingdom of the Emmets? The she continued a woman by day and appeared a Prince, who was excessively complaisant, told her mouse by night.
The old fairy was a good deal mortified at her elsewhere; for, in this particular, several states in husband's want of gallantry, though she was re- Europe excel them; nor does it arise from a greater luctantly obliged to comply: the day was therefore exemption from taxes, for few countries pay more; spent in the most polite amusements, the gentleman it does not proceed from their being restrained by talked smut, the ladies laughed, and were angry. fewer laws. for no people are burdened with so At last, the happy night drew near, the blue cat many; nor does it particularly consist in the sestill stuck by the side of its master, and even fol- curity of their property, for property is pretty well lowed him to the bridal apartment. Barbacela en- secured in every polite state in Europe. tered the chamber, wearing a train fifteen yards How then are the English more free (for more long, supported by porcupines, and all over beset free they certainly are) than the people of any with jewels, which served to render her more de- other country, or under any other form of govern testable. She was just stepping into bed to the ment whatever? Their freedom consists in their Prince, forgetting her promise, when he insisted enjoying all the advantages of democracy, with upon seeing her in the shape of a mouse. She this superior prerogative borrowed from monarchy, had promised, and no fairy can break her word; that the severity of their laus may be related wherefore, assuming the figure of the most beau- without endangering the constitution. tiful mouse in the world, she skipped and played In a monarchical state, in which the constitution about with an infinity of amusement. The Prince, is strongest, the laws may be relaxed without danin an agony of rapture, was desirous of seeing his ger; for though the people should be unanimous in pretty play-fellow move a slow dance about the the breach of any one in particular, yet still there floor to his own singing; he began to sing, and the is an effective power superior to the people, capable mouse immediately to perform with the most per- of enforcing obedience, whenever it may be proper fect knowledge of time, and the finest grace and to inculcate the law either towards the support or greatest gravity imaginable; it only began, for Nan- welfare of the community. hoa, who had long waited for the opportunity in But in all those governments where laws derive the shape of a cat, flew upon it instantly without their sanction from the people alone, transgressions remorse, and eating it up in the hundredth part of can not be overlooked without bringing the constia moment, broke the charm, and then resumed her tution into danger. They who transgress the law natural figure.
in such a case, are those who prescribe it, by which The Prince now found that he had all along been means it loses not only its influence but its sancunder the power of enchantment, that his passion tion. In every republic the laws must be strong, for the white mouse was entirely fictitious, and not because the constitution is feeble; they must resemthe genuine complexion of his soul; he now saw ble an Asiatic husband, who is justly jealous, bethat his earnestness after mice was an illiberal cause he knows himself impotent. Thus in Holamusement, and much more becoming a rat-catcher land, Switzerland, and Genoa, new laws are not than a Prince. All his meannesses now stared frequently enacted, but the old ones are observed him in the face; he begged the discreet Princess's with unremitting severity. In such republics, there pardon a hundred times. The Princess very rea- fore, the people are slaves to laws of their own dily forgave him; and both returning to their pa- making, little less than in unmixed monarchies, lace in Bonbobbin, lived very happily together, and where they are slaves to the will of one, subject to reigned many years with all that wisdom, which, frailties like themselves. by the story, they appear to have been possessed In England, from a variety of happy accidents, of; perfectly convinced, by their former adventures, their constitution is just strong enough, or, if you that they who place their affections on trifles at will, monarchical enough to permit a relaxation of first for amusement, will find those trifles at last the severity of laws, and yet those laws still to rebecome their most serious concern. Adieu. main sufficiently strong to govern the people. This
is the most perfect state of civil liberty of which we ean form any idea: here we see a greater number
of laws than in any other country, while the people LETTER L.
at the same time obey only such as are immedi
ately conducive to the interests of society; several From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
are unnoticed, many unknown; some kept to be
revived and enforced upon proper occasions, others Ask an Englishman what nation in the world left to grow obsolete, even without the necessity enjoys most freedom, and he immediately answers, of abrogation. his own. Ask him in what that freedom princi- There is scarcely an Englishman who does not pally consists, and he is instantly silent. This almost every day of his life offend with impunity happy pre-eminence does not arise from the peo- against some express law, and for which, in a cer ple's enjoying a larger sharc in legislation than tain conjuncture of circumstances, be would not
To the Same
receive punishment. Gaming-houses, preaching into an exuberance of power themselves, and the at prohibited places, assembled crowds, nocturnal public become actually dependent, while some of its amusements, public shows, and a hundred other individuals only governed. instances, are forbid and frequented. These pro- If then, my friend, there should in this country hibitions are useful; though it be prudent in their ever be on the throne a king, who, through goodmagistrates, and happy for the people, that they nature or age, should give up the smallest part of are not enforced, and none but the venal or merce- his prerogative to the people; if there should come nary attempt to enforce them.
a minister of merit and popularity—but I have The law in this case, like an indulgent parent, room for no inore. Adieu. still keeps the rod, though the child is seldom corrected. Were those pardoned offences to rise into enormity, were they likely to obstruct the happiness of society, or endanger the state, it is then that jus
LETTER LI. tice would resume her terrors, and punish those faults she had so often overlooked with indulgence. It is to this ductility of the laws that an English- As I was yesterday seated at breakfast over a man owes the freedom he enjoys superior to others pensive dish of tea, my meditations were interruptin a more popular government: every step there-ed by my old friend and companion, who introduced fore the constitution takes towards a democratic a stranger, dressed pretty much like himself. I'he form, every diminution of the legal authority is, in gentleman made several apologies for his visit, beg. fact, a diminution of the subject's freedom; but ged of me to impute his intrusion to the sincerity every attempt to render the government more popu- of his respect, and the warmth of his curiosity. lar, not only impairs 'natural liberty, but even will As I am very suspicious of my company when at last dissolve the political constitution.
I find them very civil without any apparent reason, Every popular government seems calculated to I answered the stranger's caresses at first with relast only for a time; it grows rigid with age, new serve; which my friend perceiving, instantly let me laws are multiplying, and the old continue in force; into my visitant's trade and character, asking Mr. the subjects are oppressed, and burdened with a Fudge, whether he had lately published any thing multiplicity of legal injunctions; there are none new? I now conjectured that my guest was no from whom to expect redress, and nothing but a other than a bookseller, and his answer confirmel strong convulsion in the state can vindicate them my suspicions. into former liberty: thus, the people of Rome, a "Excuse me, sir," says he, "it is not the season; few great ones excepted, found more real freedom books have their time as well as cucumbers. I under their emperors, though tyrants, than they would no more bring out a new work in summer had experienced in the old age of the common-than I would sell pork in the dog-days. Nothing wealth, in which their laws were become numerous in my way goes off in summer, except very light and painful, in which new laws were every day goods indeed. A review, a magazine, or a sessions enacting, and the old ones executed with rigour. paper, may amuse a summer reader; but allour stock They even refused to be reinstated in their former of value we reserve for a spring and winter trade." prerogatives, upon an offer made them to this pur- I must confess, sir, says I, a curiosity to know what pose; for they actually found emperors the only you call a valuable stock, which can only bear a means of softening the rigours of their constitu- winter perusal. “Sir," replied the bookseller, “it tion.
is not my way to cry up my own goods; but, withThe constitution of England is at present pos- out exaggeration, I will venture to show with any sessed of the strength of its native oak, and the of the trade; my books at least have the peculiar flexibility of the bending tamarisk; but should the advantage of being always new; and it is my way people at any time, with a mistaken zeal, pant after to clear off my old to the trunk-makers every seaan imaginary freedom, and fancy that abridging son. I have ten new title-pages now about me, monarchy was increasing their privileges, they which only want books to be added to make them would be very much mistaken, since every jewel the finest things in nature. Others may pretend plucked from the crown of majesty would only be to direct the vulgar; but that is not my way; 1 al. inade use of as a bribe to corruption; it might en- was let the vulgar direct me; wherever popular rick she few who shared it among them, but would clamour arises, I always echo the million. For in fact impoverish the public.
instance, should the poople in general say, that As the Roman senators, by slow and impercepti- such a man is a rogue, I instantly give orders to set ble degrees, became masters of the people, yet still him down in print a villain; thus every man buys flattered them with a show of freedom, while them- the book, not to learn new sentiments, but to have selves only were free; so it is possible for a body the pleasure of seeing his own reflected.” But, sir, of men, while they stand up for privileges, to grow interrupted I, you speak as if you yourself uroda
The books you published; may I be so bold as lo ask "I once had an author who never left the least a sight of some of those intended publications which opening for the critics! close was the word, always are shortly to surprise the world! “As to that, very right, and very dull, ever on the safe side of an sir,” replied the talkative bookseller, "I only draw argument; yet with all his qualifications incapable out the plans myself; and, though I am very cau- of coming into favour. I soon perceived that his tious of communicating them to any, yes, as in the bent was for criticism; and, as he was good for noend I have a favour to ask, you shall see a few of thing else, supplied him with pens and paper, and them. Here, sir, here they are; diamonds of the first planted him at the beginning of every month as a water, I assure you. Imprimis, a translation of censor on the works of others. In short, I found him several medical precepts for the use of such physi-a treasure; no merit could escape him : but what is cians as do not understand Latin. Item, the young most remarkable of all, he ever wrote best and bitclergyman's art of placing patches regularly, with terest when drunk.” But are there not some a dissertation on the different manners of smiling works, interrupted I, that from the very manner without distorting the face. Item, the whole art of their composition, must be exempt from critiof love made perfectly easy, by a broker of 'Change cism; particularly such as profess to disregard Alley. Item, the proper manner of cutting black- its laws? “There is no work whatsoever but what lead pencils, and making crayons; by the Right Hon. he can criticise,” replied the bookseller; "even the Earl of ***. Item, the muster-niaster-general, though you wrote in Chinese he would have a pluck or the review of reviews Sir, cried 1, inter- at you. Suppose you should take it into your head rupting him, my curiosity with regard to titie- to publish a book, let it be a volume of Chinese letpages is satisfied; I should be glad to see some ters, for instance: write how you will, he shall longer manuscript, a history or an epic poem. show the world you could have written better. “Bless me,” cries the man of industry, "now you Should you, with the most local exactness, stick to speak of an epic poem, you shall see an excellent the manners and customs of the country from farce. Here it is; dip into it where you will, it whence you come; should you confine yourself to will be found replete with true modern humour. the narrow limits of Eastern knowledge, and be Strokes, sir ; it is filled with strokes of wit and perfectly simple, and perfectly natural, he has then satire in every line." Do you call these dashes the strongest reason to exclaim. He may with a of the pen, strokes, replied I, for I must confess I sneer send you back to China for readers. He may of the bookseller's conversation; and after about| My friend in black, indeed, did not behave with half an hour's disagreeable reserve, he with some the same deference, but contradicted the finest of ceremony, took his leave, and withdrew. Adieu. them all in the most peremptory tones of contempt.
no other? "And pray, sir,” returned he, observe, that after the first or second letter, the "what do you call them? Do you see any thing iteration of the same simplicity is insupportably tegood now-a-days, that is not filled with strokes— dious; but the worst of all is, the public in such a and dashes? —Sir, a well-placed dash makes half case will anticipate his censures, and leave you, the wit of our writers of modern humour. I bought with all your uninstructive simplicity, to be mauled a piece last season that had no other merit upon at discretion." earth than nine hundred and ninety-five breaks, Yes, cried I, but in order to avoid his indig. seventy-two ha ha's, three good things, and a gar- nation, and what I should fear more, that of the ter. And yet it played off, and bounced, and public, I would, in such a case, write with all the cracked, and made more sport than a fire-work." knowledge I was master of. As I am not possessed I fancy, then, sir, you were a considerable gainer? of much learning, at least I would not suppress " It must be owned the piece did pay; but upon what little I had; nor would I appear more stupid the whole, I can not much boast of last winter's than nature has made me. “Here then," cries success: I gained by two murders; but then I lost the bookseller, "we should have you entirely by an ill-timed charity sermon. I was a considera- in our power: unnatural, uneastern ; quite out of ble sufferer by my Direct Road at an Estate, but character; erroneously sensible would be the whole the Infernal Guide brought me up again. Ah, sir, cry; sir, we should then hunt you down like a rat." that was a piece touched off by the hand of a mas- Head of my father! said I, sure there are but two ter; filled with good things from one end to the ways; the door must either be shut, or it must be other. The author had nothing but the jest in open. I must be either natural or unnatural. view; no dull moral lurking beneath, nor ill-natur-"Be what you will, we shall criticise you," return. ed satire to sour the reader's good-humour; heed the bookseller, "and prove you a dunce in spite wisely considered, that moral and humour at the of your teeth. But, sir, it is time that I should same time were quite overdoing the business.” To come to business. I have just now in the press a his. what purpose was the book then published? "Sir, tory of China ; and if you will but put your name to the book was published in order to be sold; and it as the author, I shall repay the obligation with no book sold better, except the criticisms upon it, gratitude.” What, sir, replied I, put my name to which came out soon after; of all kind of writings a work which I have not written! Nerer, while I that goes off best at present; and I generally fasten retain a proper respect for the public and myself s criticism upon every selling book that is published. The bluntness of my reply quite abated the ardour
But I had scarcely time to wonder at the imprudence of his conduct, when I found occasion to be
equally surprised at the absurdity of theirs; for, LETTER LII.
upon the entry of a middle-aged man, dressed in a To the Same
cap, dirty shirt, and boots, the whole circle seemed
diminished of their former importance, and conIn all other countries, my dear Fum Hoam, the tended who should be first to pay their obeisance rich are distinguished by their dress. In Persia, to the stranger. They somewhat resembled a China, and most parts of Europe, those who are circle of Kalmucs offering incense to a bear. possessed of much gold or silver, put some of it Eager to know the cause of so much seeming upon their clothes; but in England, those who contradiction, I whispered my friend out of the carry much upon their clothes are remarked for room, and found that the august company consisthaving but little in their pockets. A tawdry out- ed of no other than a dancing-master, two fiddlers, side is regarded as a badge of poverty; and those and a third-rate actor, all assembled in order to who can sit at home, and gloat over their thousands make a set at country-dances; and the middle-aged in silent satisfaction, are generally found to do it in gentleman whom I saw enter was a 'squire from plain clothes.
the country, and desirous of learning the new ma This diversity of thinking from the rest of the ner of footing, and smoothing up the rudiments of world which prevails here, I was at first at a loss his rural minuet. to account for; but am since informed, that it was I was no longer surprised at the authority which introduced by an intercourse between them and my friend assumed among them, nay, was even their neighbours the French; who, whenever they displeased (pardon my Eastern education) that he came in order to pay these islanders a visit, were had not kicked every creature of them down stairs. generally very well dressed, and very poor, daubed "What,” said I, “shall a set of such paltry fellows with lace, but all the gilding on the outside. By dress themselves up like sons of kings, and claim this means, laced clothes have been brought so even the transitory respect of half an hour! There much into contempt, that at present even their should be some law to restrain so manifest a breach mandarines are ashamed of finery.
of privilege; they should go from house to house, I must own myself a convert to English sim- as in China, with the instruments of their proplicity; I am no more for ostentation of wealth fession strung round their necks; by this means than of learning: the person who in company we might be able to distinguish and treat them in a should pretend to be wiser than others, I am apt style of becoming contempt.” Hold, my friend, to regard as illiterate and ill-bred; the person whose replied my companion, were your reformation to clothes are extremely fine, I am too apt to consider take place, as dancing-masters and fiddlers now as not being possessed of any superiority of fortune, mimic gentlemen in appearance, we should then but resembling those Indians who are found to find our fine gentlemen conforming to theirs. A wear all the gold they have in the world, in a bob beau might be introduced to a lady of fashion, with at the nose.
a fiddle-case hanging at his neck by a red riband; I was lately introduced into a company of the and instead of a cane, might carry a fiddle-stick. best dressed men 1 have seen since my arrival. Though to be as dull as a first-rate dancing-master, Upon entering the room, I was struck with awe at might be used with proverbial justice; yet, dull as the grandeur of the different dresses. That per- he is, many a fine gentleman sets him up as the sonage, thought I, in blue and gold, must be some proper standard of politeness; copies not only the emperor's son; that in green and silver, a prince pert vivacity of bis air, but the flat insipidity of his of the blood : he in embroidered scarlet, a prime conversation. In short, if you make a law against minister; all first-rate noblemen, I suppose, and dancing-masters imitating the fine gentleman, you well-looking noblemen too. I sat for some time should with as much reason enact, that no fine with that uneasiness which conscious inferiority gentleman shall imitate the dancing-master. produces in the ingenuous mind, all attention to After I had left my friend, I made towards home, their discourse. However, I found their conversa- reflecting as I went upon the difîculty of distintion more vulgar than I could have expected from guishing men by their appearance. Invited, howpersonages of such distinction: if these, thought I ever, by the freshness of the evening, I did not re. to myself, be princes, they, are the most stupid turn directly, but went to ruminate on what had princes I have ever conversed with : yet still I con- passed in a public garden belonging to the city tinued to venerate their dress; for dress has a kind Here, as I sat upon one of the benches, and felt of mechanical influence on the mind.
Ithe pleasing sympathy which nature in bloum in