Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

are imperceptibly vindicating themselves into free- is no bad thing. Immediately the praise is cardom. When I consider that those parliaments ried off by five flatterers to be dispersed at twelve (the members of which are all created by the court, different coffee-houses, from whence it circulates, the presidents of which can act only by immediate still improving as it proceeds, through forty-five direction) presume even to inention privileges and houses, where cheaper liquors are sold; from thence freedom, who, till of late, received directions from it is carried away by the honest tradesman to his the throne with implicit humility; when this is own fire-side, where the applause is eagerly caught considered, I can not help fancying that the genius up by his wife and children, who have been long of freedom has entered that kingdom in disguise. taught to regard his judgment as the standard of If they have but three weak monarchs more suc- perfection. Thus, when we have traced a wide cessively on the throne, the mask will be laid aside, extended literary reputation up to its original and the country will certainly once more be free. source, we shall find it derived from some great

When I compare the figure which the Dutch man, who has, perhaps, received all his education make in Europe with that they assume in Asia, 1 and English from a tutor of Berne, or a dancing am struck with surprise. In Asia, I find them the master of Picardy. great lords of all the Indian seas: in Europe the The English are a people of good sense; and I timid inhabitants of a paltry state. No longer the am the more surprised to find them swayed in sons of freedom, but of avarice; no longer assertors their opinions by men who often, from their of their rights by courage, but by negotiations; very education, are incompetent judges. Men fawning on those who insult them, and crouching who, being always bred in affluence, see the world under the rod of every neighbouring power. With-only on one side, are surely improper judges of out a friend to save them in distress, and without human nature; they may indeed describe a cerevirtue to save themselves; their government is mony, a pageant, or a ball; but how can they prepoor, and their private wealth will serve but to tend to dive into the secrets of the human heart, invite some neighbouring invader.

who have been nursed up only in forms, and daily I long with impatience for your letters from behold nothing but the same insipid adulation England, Denmark, Holland, and Italy; yet why smiling upon every face. Few of them have been wish for relations which only describe new calami- bred in that best of schools, the school of adversities, which show that ambition and avarice are ty; and, by what I can learn, fewer still have been equally terrible in every region! Adieu. | bred in any school at all.

From such a description, one would think, that a droning duke, or a dowager duchess, was not

possessed of more just pretensions to taste than LETTER LVII.

persons of less quality; and yet whatever the one

or the other may write or praise, shall pass for trom Lien Chi Allangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekinu in China.

perfection, without further examination. A no

bleman has but to take a pen, ink, and paper, I HAVE frequently admired the manner of criti- write away through three large volumes, and then cising in China, where the learned are assembled sign his name to the title page; though the whole in a body to judge of every new publication; to might have been before more disgusting than his examine the merits of the work, without knowing own rent-roll, yet signing his name and title gives the circumstances of the author; and then to value to the deed; title being alone equivalent to usher it into the world with proper marks of respect taste, imagination, and genius. or reprobation.

As soon as a piece therefore is published, the In England there are no such tribunals erected; first questions are, Who is the author? Does he but if a man thinks proper to be a judge of genius, keep a coach? Where lies his estate? What few will be at the pains to contradict his preten- sort of a table does he keep? If he happens to be sions. If any choose to be critics, it is but saying poor and unqualified for such a scrutiny, he and they are critics; and from that time forward, they his works sink into irremediable obscurity; and too become invested with full power and authority over late he finds, that having fed upon turtle is a more every caitiff' who aims at their instruction or en- ready way to fame than having digested Tully. tertainment.

The poor devil against whom fashion has set As almost every member of society has, by this its face, vainly alleges, that he has been bred in means, a vote in literary transactions, it is no way every part of Europe where knowledge was to be surprising to find the rich leading the way here, as sold ; that he has grown pale in the study of nain other common concerns of life; to see them ture and himself; his works may please upon the cither bribing the numerous herd of voters by their perusal, but his pretensions to fame are entirely interest, or browbeating them by their authority. disregarded; he is treated like a fiddler, whose mu

A great man says at his table, that such a book sic, though liked, is not much praised, because he fives by it; while a gentleman performer, though priests come in a body once a year to visit him: by the most wretched scraper alive, throws the audi- this means the duty of ialf a-year is dispatched in ence into raptures. The fiddler indeed may, in a day. When assembled, he asks each in his turn such a case console himself by thinking that while how they have behaved, and are liked; upon which, the other goes off with all the praise, he runs away those who have neglected their duty, or are diswith all the money; but here the parallel drops; agreeable to their congregation, no doubt accuse for while the nobleman triumphs in unmerited ap- themselves, and tell him all their faults ; for which plause, the author by profession steals off with—he reprimands them most severely. nothing.

The thoughts of being, introduced into a comThe poor, therefore, here, who draw their penspany of philosophers and learned men (for as such auxiliary to the laws of their country, must think I conceived them) gave me no small pleasure. I themselves very happy if they find, not fame but expected our entertainment would resemble those forgiveness: and yet they are hardly treated; for sentimental banquets so finely described by Xenoas every country grows more polite, the press be- phon and Plato: I was hoping some Socrates comes more useful; and writers become more neces- would be brought in from the door, in order to sary, as readers are supposed to increase. In a harangue upon divine love; but as for eating and polished society, that man, though in rags, who has drinking, I had prepared myself to be disappointed the power of enforcing virtue from the press, is of in that particular. I was apprised that fasting and more real use than forty stupid brahmins, or temperance were tenets strongly recommended to bonzes, or guebres, though they preached ever so the professors of Christianity, and I had seen the often, ever so loud, or ever so long. That man, frugality and mortification of the priests of tho though in rags, who is capable of deceiving even East; so that I expected an entertainment where indolence into wisdom, and who professes amuse- we should have much reasoning and little meat. ment while he aims at reformation, is more useful Upon being introduced, I confess I found no in refined society than twenty cardinals, with all great signs of mortification in the faces or persons their scarlet, and tricked out in all the fopperies of of the company. However, I imputed their florid scholastic finery.

looks to temperance, and their corpulency to a sedentary way of living. I saw several preparations indeed for dinner, but none for philosophy. Tho

company seemed to gaze upon the table with siLETTER LVIII.

lent expectation : but this I easily excused. Men To the Same.

of wisdom, thought I, are ever slow of speech ; they

deliver nothing unadvisedly. Silence, says ConAs the man in black takes every opportunity of fucius, is a friend that will never betray. They introducing me to such company as may serve to are now probably inventing maxims or hard say. indulge my speculative temper, or gratify my curi- ings for their mutual instruction, when some one osity, I was by his influence lately invited to a shall think proper to begin. visitation dinner. To understand this term you My curiosity was now wrought up to the highest must know, that it was formerly the custom here pitch; I impatiently looked round to see if any for the principal priests to go about the country were going to interrupt the mighty pause ; when at once a-year, and examine upon the spot, whether last one of the company declared, that there was a those of subordinate orders did their duty, or were sow in his neighbourhood that farrowed fifteen pigs qualified for the task ; whether their temples were at a litter. This I thought a very preposterous kept in proper repair, or the laity pleased with their beginning; but just as another was going to second administration.

the remark, dinner was served, which interrupted Though a visitation of this nature was very use the conversation for that time. ful, yet it was found to be extremely troublesome, The appearance of dinner, which consisted of a and for many reasons utterly inconvenient; for as variety of dishes, seemed to diffuse new cheerfulthe principal priests were obliged to attend at court, ness upon every face; so that I now expected the in order to solicit preferment, it was impossible philosophical conversation to begin, as they imthey could at the same time attend in the country, proved in good-humour. The principal priest, which was quite out of the road to promotion: if however, opened his mouth with only observing, we add to this the gout, which has been time im- that the venison had not been kept enough, though memorial a clerical disorder here, together with the he had given strict orders for having it killed ten bad wine and ill-dressed provisions that must in- days before. “I fear,” continued he, "it will be fallibly be served up by the way, it was not strange found to want the true heathy flavour; you wiis that the custom has been long discontinued. At find nothing of the original wildness in it.” present, therefore, every head of the church, instead priest

, who sat next him, having smelt it, and of going about to visit his priests, is satistied if his wiped his nose, “Ah, my good lord,” cries he "you are too modest, it is perfectly fine; every body countenance the excess. But in eating, after naknows that nobody understands keeping venison ture is once satisfied, every additional morsel brings with your lordship.”—“Ay, and partridges too,” stupidity and distempers with it, and as one of interrupted another; “I never find them right any their own poets expresses it, where else.” His lordship was going to reply, when a third took off the attention of the company,

The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines

To seem but mortal, even in sound divines. by recommending the pig as inimitable. "I fancy, my lord,” continues he, "it has been smothered in Let me suppose, after such a meal as this I have its own blood.”—“If it has been smothered in its been describing, while all the company are sitting blood,” cried a fac.tious member, helping himself, in lethargic silence round the table, groaning un" we'll now smother it in egg-sauce.” This poig. der a load of soup, pig, pork, and bacon; let me nant piece of humour produced a long loud laugh, suppose, I say, some hungry beggar, with looks of which the facetious brother observing, and now want, peeping through one of the windows, and that he was in luck, willing to second his blow, thus addressing the assembly: "Prithee, pluck assured the company he would tell them a good those napkins from your chins; after nature is story about that: “As good a story,” cries he, satisfied, all that you eat extraordinary is my bursting into a violent fit of laughter himself, "as property, and I claim it as mine. It was given ever you heard in your lives. There was a farmer you in order to relieve me, and not to oppress in my parish who used to sup upon wild ducks yourselves. How can they comfort or instruct and flummery ;-50 this farmer" –"Doctor Mar- others, who can scarcely feel their own existence, rowfat," cries his lordship, interrupting him, "give except from the unsavoury returns of an ill-digest me leave to drink your health ;"—"so being funded meal? But though neither you, nor the cush of wild ducks and fummery,”—“Doctor,” adds a ions you sit upon will hear me, yet the world regentleman who sat next to him, "let me advise gards the excesses of its teachers with a prying eye, you to a wing of this turkey;"_"so this farmer and notes their conduct with double severity.” 1 being fond”—“Hob and nob, Doctor, which do know no other answer any one of the company you choose, white or red?”_"So, being fond of could make to such an expostulation but this: wild ducks and flummery; "-"Take care of your “Friend, you talk of our losing a character, and band, sir, it may dip in the gravy." The doctor, being disliked by the world; well

, and supposing now looking round, found not a single cye disposed all this to be true, what then! who cares for the to listen; wherefore, calling for a glass of wine, he world? We'll preach for the world, and the world gulped down the disappointment and the tale in a shall pay us for preaching, whether we like each bumper.

other or not." The conversation now began to be little more than a rhapsody of exclamations: as each had pretty well satisfied his own appetite, he now found sufficient time to press others. “Excellent! the

LETTER LIX. very thing! let me recommend the pig. Do but From Hingpo to Lien Chi Altangi, by the way of Moscow. taste the bacon! never ate a better thing in my life: exquisite ! delicious!” This edifying dis- You will probably be pleased to see my lettes course continued through three courses, which last- dated from Terki, a city which lies beyond the ed as many hours, till every one of the company hounds of the Persian empire: here, blessed with were unable to swallow or utter any thing more. security, with all that is dear, I double my rap

It is very natural for men who are abridged in tures by communicating them to you: the mind one excess, to break into some other. The clergy sympathising with the freedom of the body, my here, particularly those who are advanced in years, whole soul is dilated in gratitude, love, and praise. think if they are abstemious with regard to women Yet, were my own happiness all that inspired my and wine, they may indulge their other appetites present joy, my raptures might justly merit the without censure Thus some are found to rise in imputation of self-interest; but when I think that the morning only to a consultation with their cook the beautiful Zelis is also free, forgive my triumph about dinner. and when that has been swallowed, when I boast of having rescued from captivity the make no other use of their faculties (if they have most deserving object upon earth. any) but to ruminate on the succeeding meal. You remember the reluctance she testified at

A debauch in wine is even more pardonable being obliged to marry the tyrant she hated. Her than this, since one glass insensibly leads on to compliance at last was only feigned, in order to another, and instead of sating, whets the appetite. gain time to try some future means of escape. The progressive steps to it are cheerful and se- During the interval between her promise and the ducing; the grave are animated, the melancholy intended performance of it, she came undiscovered relieved, and there is even classic authority to one evening to the place where I generally retired

1

after the fatigues of the day: her appearance was I was bound, and seizing a scimitar from one of
like that of an aerial genius when it descends to the slaves, who had not courage to resist me, flew
minister comfort to undeserved distress; the mild to the women's apartment where Zelis was con-
lustre of her eye served to banish my timidity; her fined, dressed out for the intended nuptials. I
accents were sweeter than the echo of some dis- bade her follow me without delay, and going for-
tant symphony. “Unhappy stranger,” said she, ward, cut my way through the eunuchs, who made
in the Persian language, "you here perceive one but a faint resistance. The whole city was now a
more wretched than thyself! All this solemnity scene of conflagration and terror; every person was
of preparation, this elegance of dress, and the willing to save himself, unmindful of others. In
number of my attendants, serve but to increase my this confusion, seizing upon two of the fleetest
miseries : if you have courage to rescue an unbap- coursers in the stables of Mostadad, we fled north-
py woman from approaching ruin, and our detest- ward towards the kingdom of Circassia. As there
ed tyrant, you may depend upon my future grati- were several others flying in the same manner, we
tude.” I bowed to the ground, and she left me, passed without notice, and in three days arrived at
filled with rapture and astonishment. Night Terki, a city that lies in a valley within the bosom
brought me no rest, nor could the ensuing morn- of the frowning mountains of Caucasus. Here,
ing calm the anxieties of my mind. I projected a free from every apprehension of danger, we enjoy
thousand methods for her delivery; but each, when all those satisfactions which are consistent with
strictly examined, appeared impracticable: in this virtue: though I find my heart at intervals give
uncertainty the evening again arrived, and I placed way to unusual passions, yet such is my admira-
myself on my former station in hopes of a repeated tion for my fair companion, that I lose even ten-
visit. After some short expectation, the bright derness in distant respect. Though her person
perfection again appeared : 1 bowed, as before, to demands particular regard even among the beau-
the ground; when raising me up, she observed, ties of Circassia, yet is her mind far more lovely.
that the time was not to be spent in useless cere- How very different is a woman who thus has cul-
mony; she observed that the day following was tivated her understanding, and been refined into
appointed for the celebration of her nuptials, and delicacy of sentiment, from the daughters of the
that something was to be done that very night for East, whose education is only formed to improve
our mutual deliverance. I offered with the utmost the person, and make them more tempting objects
humility to pursue whatever scheme she should di- of prostitution. Adieu.
rect; upon which she proposed that instant to scale
the garden-wall, adding that she had prevailed upon
a female slave, who was now waiting at the ap-
pointed place, to assist her with a ladder.

LETTER LX.
Pursuant to this information, I led her trembling

From the Same.
to the place appointed; but instead of the slave we
expected to see, Mostadad himself was there await- Waen sufficiently refreshed after the fatigues
ing our arrival : the wretch in whom we had con- of our precipitate flight, my curiosity, which had
fided, it seems, had betrayed our design to her mas- been restrained by the appearance of immediate
ter, and he now saw the most convincing proofs danger, now began to revive : I longed to know
of her information. He was just going to draw by what distressful accident my fair fugitive be-
his sabre, when a principle of avarice repressed came a captive, and could not avoid testifying a
his fury; and he resolved, after a severe chastise- surprise how so much beauty could be involved in
ment, to dispose of me to another master ; in the the calamities from whence she had been so lately
mean time ordered me to be confined in the strict- rescued.
est manner, and the next day to receive a hundred Talk not of personal charms, cried she, with
blows on the soles of my feet.

emotion, since to them I owe every misfortune. When the morning came, I was led out in order Look round on the numberless beauties of the to receive the punishment, which, from the severity country where we are, and see how nature has with which it is generally inflicted upon slaves, is poured its charms upon every face; and yet by Forse even than death.

this profusion, Heaven would seem to show how A trumpet was to be the signal for the solemni- little it regards such a blessing, since the gift is xation of the nuptials of Zelis, and for the inflic- lavished upon a nation of prostitutes. tion of my punishment. Each ceremony, to me I perceive you desire to know my story, and equally dreadful, was just going to begin, when we your curiosity is not so great as my impatience to were informed that a large body of Circassian Tar- gratify it: I find a pleasure in telling past misfortars had invaded the town, and were laying all in tuncs to any, but when my deliverer is pleased ruin. Every person now thought only of saving with the relation, my pleasure is prompted by bimself: I instantly unloosed the cords with which duty.

[ocr errors]

t6

"I was born in a country far to the West, where always regarded him merely from prudential mo the men are braver, and the women more fair than tives; but it had a very different effect upon my those of Circassia; where the valour of the hero father, who, rash and passionate by nature, and, is guided by wisdom, and where delicacy of senti- besides, stimulated by a mistaken notion of miliment points the shafts of female beauty. I was tary honour, upbraided his friend in such terms the only daughter of an officer in the army, the that a challenge was soon given and accepted. child of his age, and as he used fondly to express It was about midnight when I was awakened by it, the only chain that bound him to the world, a message from my father, who desired to see me or inade his life pleasing. His station procured that moment. I rose with some surprise, and folhim an acquaintance with men of greater rank lowing the messenger, attended only by another and fortune than himself, and his regard for me servant, came to a field not far from the house, induced him to bring me into every family where where I found him, the assertor of my honour, my he was acquainted. Thus I was early taught all only friend and supporter, the tutor and companthe elegancies and fashionable foibles of such as the ion of my youth, lying on one side covered over world calls polite, and, though without fortune my- with blood, and just expiring no tears streamed self, was taught to despise those who lived as if down my cheeks, nor sigh escaped from my breast, they were poor.

at an object of such terror. I sat down, and supMy intercourse with the great, and my affec-porting his aged head in my lap, gazed upon the tation of grandeur, procured me many lovers; but ghastly visage with an agony more poignant even want of fortune deterred them all from any other than despairing madness. The servants were views than those of passing the present moment gone for more assistance. In this gloomy stillness agreeably, or of meditating my future ruin. In of the night no sounds were heard but his agonizevery company I found myself addressed in a ing respirations; no object was presented but his warmer strain of passion than other ladies who wounds, which still continued to stream. With were superior in point of rank and beauty; and silent anguish I hung over his dear face, and with this I imputed to an excess of respect, which in my hands strove to stop the blood as it flowed from reality proceeded from very different motives. his wounds: he seemed at first insensible, but at

"Among the number of such as paid me their last, turning his dying eyes upon me, 'My dear, addresses, was a gentleman, a friend of my father, dear child,' cried he; 'dear, though you have forrather in the decline of life, with nothing remarka-gotten your own honour and stained mine, I will ble either in his person or address to recommend yet forgive you; by abandoning virtue, you have him. His age, which was about forty, his fortune, undone me and yourself, yet take my forgiveness which was moderate, and barely sufficient to sup- with the same compassion I wish Heaven may port him, served to throw me off my guard, so pity me. He expired. All my succeeding happithat I considered him as the only sincere admirerness fled with him. Reflecting that I was the I had.

cause of his death whom only I loved upon earth; “Designing lovers, in the decline of life, are ever accused of betraying the honour of his family with most dangerous. Skilled in all the weaknesses of his latest breath; conscious of my own innocence, the sex, they seize each favourable opportunity; yet without even a possibility of vindicating it: and, by having less passion than youthful admirers, without fortune or friends to relieve or pity me; have less real respect, and therefore less timidity. abandoned to infamy and the wide censuring This insidious wretch used a thousand arts to world, I called out upon the dead body that lay succeed in his base designs, all which I saw, but stretched before me, and in the agony of my heart imputed to different views, because I thought it asked, why he could have left me thus? Why, absurd to believe the real motives.

my dear, my only papa, why could you ruin me "As he continued to frequent my father's, the thus and yourself

, forever? O pity and return, friendship between them became every day greater; since there is none but you to comfort me ! and at last, from the intimacy with which he was " I soon found that I had real cause for sorrow ; received, I was taught to look upon him as a guard that I was to expect no compassion from my own ian and a friend. Though I never loved, yet I es- sex, nor assistance from the other; and that reputeemed him; and this was enough to make me tation was much more useful in our commerce with wish for a union, for which he seemed desirous, mankind than really to deserve it. Wherever I lut to which he feigned several delays; while in the came, I perceived myself received either with conmean time, from a false report of our being married, tempt or detestation ; or, whenever I was civilly every other admirer forsook me.

treated, it was from the most base and ungenerous "I was at last however awakened from the de- motives. lusion, by an account of his being just married to “Thus driven from the society of the virtuous, another young lady with a considerable fortune. I was at last, in order to dispel the anxieties of in. This was no great mortification to me, as I had supportable solitude, obliged to take up with the

« AnteriorContinuar »