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From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, a Slave in Persia.
of happiness, that can be applied with propriety to every condition of life. The man of pleasure, the man of business, and the philosopher, are equally interested in its disquisition. If we do not find happiness in the present moment, in what shall we
It is impossible to form a philosophic system of happiness, which is adapted to every condition in find it? either in reflecting on the past, or prognos
ticating the future. But let us see how these are capable of producing satisfaction.
life, since every person who travels in this great pursuit takes a separate read. The differing colours which suit different complexions, are not more A remembrance of what is past, and an anticivarious than the different pleasures appropriated to pation of what is to come, seem to be the two faculdifferent minds. The various sects who have pre- ties by which man differs most from other animals. tended to give lessons to instruct me in happiness, Though brutes enjoy them in a limited degree, yet have described their own particular sensations their whole life seems taken up in the present, rewithout considering ours, have only loaded their gardless of the past and the future. Man, on the disciples with constraint, without adding to their contrary, endeavours to derive his happiness, and real felicity. experiences most of his miseries, from these two
If I find pleasure in dancing, how ridiculous sources. would it be in me to prescribe such an amusement Is this superiority of reflection a prerogative of for the entertainment of a cripple: should he, on which we should boast, and for which we should the other hand, place his chief delight in painting, thank nature; or is it a misfortune of which we yet would he be absurd in recommending the same should complain and be humble? Either from the relish to one who had lost the power of distinguish-abuse, or from the nature of things, it certainly ing colours. General directions are, therefore, com- makes our condition more miserable. monly useless: and to be particular would exhaust volumes, since each individual may require a particular system of precepts to direct his choice.
Every mind seems capable of entertaining a certain quantity of happiness, which no institutions can increase, no circumstances alter, and entirely independent of fortune. Let any man compare his present fortune with the past, and he will probably find himself, upon the whole, neither better nor worse than formerly.
Gratified ambition, or irreparable calamity, may produce transient sensations of pleasure or distress. Those storms may discompose in proportion as they are strong, or the mind is pliant to their impression. But the soul, though at first lifted up by the event, is every day operated upon with diminished influence, and at length subsides into the level of its usual tranquillity. Should some unexpected turn of fortune take thee from fetters, and place thee on a throne, exultation would be natural upon the change; but the temper, like the face, would soon resume its native serenity.
Had we a privilege of calling up, by the power of memory, only such passages as were pleasing, unmixed with such as were disagreeable, we might then excite at pleasure an ideal happiness, per haps more poignant than actual sensation. But this is not the case: the past is never represented without some disagreeable circumstance, which tarnishes all its beauty; the remembrance of an evil carries in it nothing agreeable, and to remember a good is always accompanied with regret. Thus we lose more than we gain by the remembrance.
And we shall find our expectation of the future to be a gift more distressful even than the former. To fear an approaching evil is certainly a most disagreeable sensation: and in expecting an approaching good, we experience the inquietude or wanting actual possession.
Thus, whichever way we look, the prospect is disagreeable. Behind, we have left pleasures we shall never more enjoy, and therefore regret; and before, we see pleasures which we languish to possess, and are consequently uneasy till we possess Every wish, therefore, which leads us to expect them. Was there any method of seizing the prehappiness somewhere else but where we are, every sent, unembittered by such reflections, then would institution which teaches us that we should be bet-our state be tolerably easy.
ter by being possessed of something new, which This, indeed, is the endeavour of all mankind, promises to lift us a step higher than we are, only lays a foundation for uneasiness, because it contracts debts which we can not repay; it calls that a good, which, when we have found it, will, in fact, add nothing to our happiness.
who, untutored by philosophy, pursue as much as they can a life of amusement and dissipation, Every rank in life, and every size of understanding, seems to follow this alone; or not pursuing it, deviates from happiness. The man of pleasure To enjoy the present, without regret for the past pursues dissipation by profession; the man of busior solicitude for the future, has been the advice ra-ness pursues it not less, as every voluntary labour ther of poets than philosophers. And yet the pre- he undergoes is only dissipation in disguise. The cept seems more rational than is generally imagined. philosopher himself, even while he reasons upon the It is the only general precept respecting the pursuit subject, does it unknowingly, with a view of dissi
pating the thoughts of what he was, or what he which makes the uneasiness and misery of others, must be. serves as a companion and instructor to him.
The subject therefore comes to this: which is In a word, positive happiness is constitutional, the most perfect sort of dissipation-pleasure, busi- and incapable of increase; misery is artificial, and ness, or philosophy? Which best serves to exclude generally proceeds from our folly. Philosophy can those uneasy sensations which memory or antici- add to our happiness in no other manner, but by pation produce?
diminishing our misery: it should not pretend to The enthusiasm of pleasure charms only by in- increase our present stock, but make us economists tervals. The highest rapture lasts only for a mo- of what we are possessed of. The great source of ment; and all the senses seem so combined as to calamity lies in regret or anticipation; he, therefore, be soon tired into languor by the gratification of is most wise, who thinks of the present alone, reany one of them. It is only among the poets we gardless of the past or the future. This is imposhear of men changing to one delight, when satiated sible to the man of pleasure; it is difficult to the with another. In nature it is very different: the man of business; and is in some measure attainable glutton, when sated with the full meal, is unquali- by the philosopher. Happy were we all born fied to feel the real pleasure of drinking; the drunk-philosophers, all born with a talent of thus dissiard in turn finds few of those transports which pating our own cares, by spreading them upon all lovers boast in enjoyment; and the lover, when mankind! Adieu. cloyed, finds a diminution of every other appetite.
Thus, after a full indulgence of any one sense, the
man of pleasure finds a languor in all, is placed in
a chasm between past and expected enjoyment,| perceives an interval which must be filled up. The
Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
present can give no satisfaction, because he has From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the already robbed it of every charm: a mind thus left without immediate employment, naturally recurs
THOUGH the frequent invitations I receive from
to the past or future; the reflector finds that he was men of distinction here might excite the vanity of happy, and knows that he can not be so now; he some, I am quite mortified, however, when I consees that he may yet be happy, and wishes the hour sider the motives that inspire their civility. I am was come: thus every period of his continuance is sent for not to be treated as a friend, but to satisfy miserable, except that very short one of immediate curiosity; not to be entertained so much as wondergratification. Instead of a life of dissipation, none ed at; the same earnestness which excites them to has more frequent conversations with disagreeable see a Chinese, would have made them equally self than he; his enthusiasms are but few and proud of a visit from the rhinoceros. transient; his appetites, like angry creditors, continually making fruitless demands for what he is unable to pay; and the greater his former pleasure, the more strong his regret, the more impatient his expectations. A life of pleasure is therefore the most unpleasing life in the world.
From the highest to the lowest, this people seem fond of sights and monsters. I am told of a person here who gets a very comfortable livelihood by making wonders, and then selling or showing them to the people for money; no matter how insignificant they were in the beginning, by locking them Habit has rendered the man of business more up close, and showing for money, they soon becool in his desires; he finds less regret for past come prodigies! His first essay in this way was pleasures, and less solicitude for those to come., to exhibit himself as a wax-work figure behind a The life he now leads, though tainted in some glass door at a puppet-show. Thus, keeping the measure with hope, is yet not afflicted so strongly spectators at a proper distance, and having his head with regret, and is less divided between short-lived rapture and lasting anguish. The pleasures he has enjoyed are not so vivid, and those he has to expect can not consequently create so much anxiety. The philosopher, who extends his regard to all mankind, must still have a smaller concern for what has already affected, or may hereafter affect himself: the concerns of others make his whole study, Determined to act the statue no more, he next and that study is his pleasure; and this pleasure is levied contributions under the figure of an Indian continuing in its nature, because it can be changed king; and by painting his face, and counterfeiting at will, leaving but few of these anxious intervals the savage howl, he frighted several ladies and which are employed in remembrance or anticipa- children with amazing success: in this manner, tion. The philosopher by this means leads a life therefore, he might have lived very comfortably, of almost continued dissipation; and reflection, had he not been arrested for a debt that was ron
adorned with a copper crown, he looked extremely natural, and very like the life itself. He continued this exhibition with success, till an involuntary fit of sneezing brought him to life before all the spectators, and consequently rendered him for that time as entirely useless as the peaceable inhabitant of a catacomb.
tracted when he was the figure in wax-work: thus ties lay, of which I was yet insensible. Sir, cries his face underwent an involuntary ablution, and he found himself reduced to his primitive complexion and indigence.
he, the merit does not consist in the piece, but in the manner in which it was done. The painter drew the whole with his foot, and held the pencil between his toes: I bought it at a very great price; for peculiar merit should ever be rewarded.
After some time, being freed from gaol, he was now grown wiser, and instead of making himself a wonder, was resolved only to make wonders. He But these people are not more fond of wonders, learned the art of pasting up mummies; was never than liberal in rewarding those who show them. at a loss for an artificial lusus nature; nay, it has From the wonderful dog of knowledge, at present been reported, that he has sold seven petrified lob- under the patronage of the nobility, down to the sters of his own manufacture to a noted collector of man with the box, who professes to show the best rarities; but this the learned Cracovius Putridus has imitation of Nature that was ever seen, they all undertaken to refute in a very elaborate dissertation. live in luxury. A singing-woman shall collect His last wonder was nothing more than a halter, subscriptions in her own coach and six; a fellow yet by this halter he gained more than by all his shall make a fortune by tossing a straw from his toe former exhibitions. The people, it seems, had got to his nose; one in particular has found that eating it in their heads, that a certain noble criminal was fire was the most ready way to live; and another to be hanged with a silken rope. Now there was who jingles several bells fixed to his cap, is the nothing they so much wished to see as this very only man that I know of, who has received emolurope; and he was resolved to gratify their curiosity: ment from the labours of his head. he therefore got one made, not only of silk, but to A young author, a man of good-nature and render it more striking, several threads of gold were learning, was complaining to me some nights ago intermixed. The people paid their money only to of this misplaced generosity of the times. Here, see silk, but were highly satisfied when they found says he, have I spent part of my youth in attemptit was mixed with gold into the bargain. It is ing to instruct and amuse my fellow-creatures, and scarcely necessary to mention, that the projector all my reward has been solitude, poverty, and resold his silken rope for almost what it had cost proach; while a fellow, possessed of even the smallhim, as soon as the criminal was known to be est share of fiddling merit, or who has perhaps hanged in hempen materials. learned to whistle double, is rewarded, applauded, By their fondness of sights, one would be apt to and caressed! Pr'ythee, young man, says I to him, imagine, that instead of desiring to see things as are you ignorant, that in so large a city as this, it they should be, they are rather solicitous of seeing is better to be an amusing than a useful member of them as they ought not to be. A cat with four society? Can you leap up, and touch your feet legs is disregarded, though never so useful; but if four times before you come to the ground? No, it has but two, and is consequently incapable of sir. Can you pimp for a man of quality? No, catching mice, it is reckoned inestimable, and every Can you stand upon two horses at full speed? man of taste is ready to raise the auction. A man, No, sir. Can you swallow a pen-knife? I can do though in his person faultless as an aerial genius, none of these tricks. Why then, cried I, there is might starve; but if stuck over with hideous warts no other prudent mean of subsistence left, but to like a porcupine, his fortune is made for ever, and apprise the town that you speedily intend to eat he may propagate the breed with impunity and up your own nose, by subscription. applause.
I have frequently regretted that none of our A good woman in my neighbourhood, who was Eastern posture-masters, or showmen, have ever bred a habit-maker, though she handled her needle ventured to England. I should be pleased to see tolerably well, could scarcely get employment. But that money circulate in Asia, which is now sent to being obliged, by an accident, to have both her Italy and France, in order to bring their vagabonds hands cut off from the elbows, what would in hither. Several of our tricks would undoubtedly another country have been her ruin, made her for- give the English high satisfaction. Men of fashion tune here: she now was thought more fit for her would be greatly pleased with the postures as well trade than before; business flowed in apace, and all as the condescension of our dancing-girls; and the people paid for seeing the mantua-maker who ladies would equally admire the conductors of our wrought without hands. fire-works. What an agreeable surprise would it A gentleman showing me his collection of pic be to see a huge fellow with whiskers flash a tures, stopped at one with peculiar admiration: charged blunderbuss full in a lady's face, without there, cries he, is an inestimable piece. I gazed at singeing her hair, or melting her pomatum. Perthe picture for some time, but could see none of haps, when the first surprise was over, she might those graces with which he seemed enraptured; then grow familiar with danger; and the ladies it appeared to me the most paltry piece of the whole might vie with each other in standing fire with incollection: I therefore demanded where those beau-trepidity.
But of all the wonders of the East, the most use- virginity in a pawnbroker's shop, now attempted ful, and I should fancy the most pleasing, would to make up the defects of breeding and sentiment be the looking-glass of Lao, which reflects the by the magnificence of her dress, and the expenmind as well as the body. It is said that the Em-siveness of her amusements. Mr. Showman, peror Chusi, used to make his concubines dress their cried she, approaching, I am told you has someheads and their hearts in one of these glasses eve- thing to show in that there sort of magic-lantern, ry morning while the lady was at her toilet, he by which folks can see themselves on the inside: would frequently look over her shoulder; and it I protest, as my Lord Beetle says, I am sure it will is recorded, that among the three hundred which be vastly pretty, for I have never seen any thing composed his seraglio, not one was found whose like it before. But how; are we to strip off our mind was not even more beautiful than her per- clothes and be turned inside out? if so, as Lord Beetle says, I absolutely declare off; for I would I make no doubt but a glass in this country not strip for the world before a man's face, and so would have the very same effect. The English I tells his lordship almost every night of my life. ladies, concubines and all, would undoubtedly cut I informed the lady that I would dispense with the very pretty figures in so faithful a monitor. There ceremony of stripping, and immediately presented should we happen to peep over a lady's shoulder my glass to her view.
while dressing, we might be able to see neither As when a first-rate beauty, after having with gaming nor ill-nature; neither pride, debauchery, difficulty escaped the small-pox, revisits her fanor a love of gadding. We should find her, if vourite mirror-that mirror which had repeated any sensible defect appeared in the mind, more the flattery of every lover, and even added force careful in rectifying it, than plastering up the ir- to the compliment,-expecting to see what had reparable decays of the person; nay, I am even so often given her pleasure, she no longer beholds apt to fancy, that ladies would find more real plea- the cherry lip, the polished forehead, and speaking sure in this utensil in private, than in any other blush; but a hateful phiz, quilted into a thousand bauble imported from China, though ever so ex-seams by the hand of deformity; grief, resentment, pensive or amusing.
To the Same.
and rage, fill her bosom by turns: she blames the fates and the stars, but most of all, the unhappy glass feels her resentment: so it was with the lady in question; she had never seen her own mind before, and was now shocked at its deformity. One single look was sufficient to satisfy her curiosity; I held up the glass to her face, and she shut her eyes; no entreaties could prevail upon her to gaze once more. She was even going to snatch it from my hands and break it in a thousand pieces. I found it was time, therefore, to dismiss her as incorrigible, and show away to the next that offered.
UPON finishing my last letter, I retired to rest, reflecting upon the wonders of the glass of Lao, wishing to be possessed of one here, and resolved in such a case to oblige every lady with a sight of it for nothing. What fortune denied me waking, fancy supplied in a dream: the glass, I know not how, was put into possession, and I could perceive This was an unmarried lady, who continued in several ladies approaching, some voluntarily, others a state of virginity till thirty-six, and then admitted driven forward against their wills, by a set of dis- a lover when she despaired of a husband. No contented genii, whom by intuition I knew were woman was louder at a revel than she, perfectly their husbands. free hearted, and almost in every respect a man: The apartment in which I was to show away she understood ridicule to perfection, and was once was filled with several gaming-tables, as if just for known even to sally out in order to beat the watch. saken: the candles were burnt to the socket, and "Here, you my dear with the outlandish face the hour was five o'clock in the morning. Placed (said she, addressing me), let me take a single at one end of the room, which was of prodigious peep. Not that I care three damns what figure I length, I could more easily distinguish every female may cut in the glass of such an old-fashioned creafigure as she marched up from the door; but guess ture; if I am allowed the beauties of the face by my surprise, when I could scarcely perceive one people of fashion, I know the world will be comblooming or agreeable face among the number. | plaisant enough to toss me the beauties of the This, however, I attributed to the early hour, and mind into the bargain." I held my glass before kindly considered that the face of a lady just risen her as she desired, and must confess was shocked from bed, ought always to find a compassionate with the reflection. The lady, however, gazed for advocate.
some time with the utmost complacency; and at last, turning to me, with the most satisfied smile said, she never could think she had been half so
The first person who came up in order to view her intellectual face was a commoner's wife, who, as I afterward found, being bred up during her handsome.
Upon her dismission, a lady of distinction was that mind of yours; but there is still one which I reluctantly hauled along to the glass by her hus- do not see represented, I mean that of rising beband. In bringing her forward, as he came first times in the morning: I fancy the glass false in to the glass himself, his mind appeared tinctured that particular." The young lady smiled at my with immoderate jealousy, and I was going to re- simplicity; and with a blush confessed, that she proach him for using her with such severity; but and the whole company had been up all night when the lady came to present herself, I immedi-gaming. ately retracted; for, alas! it was seen that he had but too much reason for his suspicions.
By this time all the ladies, except one, had seen themselves successively, and disliked the show or The next was a lady who usually teased all her scolded the showman; I was resolved, however, acquaintance in desiring to be told of her faults, that she who seemed to neglect herself, and was and then never mended any. Upon approaching neglected by the rest, should take a view; and the glass, I could readily perceive vanity, affecta- going up to a corner of the room where she still tion, and some other ill-looking blots on her mind; continued sitting, I presented my glass full in her wherefore, by my advice, she immediately set face. Here it was that I exulted in my success; about mending. But I could easily find she was no blot, no stain, appeared on any part of the faithnot earnest in the work; for as she repaired them ful mirror. As when the large unwritten page on one side, they generally broke out on another. presents its snowy spotless bosom to the writer's Thus, after three or four attempts, she began to hand, so appeared the glass to my view. Here, O make the ordinary use of the glass in settling her ye daughters of English ancestors, cried I, turn hair.
hither, and behold an object worthy imitation; look upon the mirror now, and acknowledge its justice, and this woman's pre-eminence! The ladies, obeying the summons, came up in a group, and looking on, acknowledged there was some truth in the picture, as the person now represented had been deaf, dumb, and a fool from her
The company now made room for a woman of learning, who approached with a slow pace and solemn countenance, which, for her own sake, I could wish had been cleaner. Sir," cried the lady, flourishing her hand, which held a pinch of snuff, "I shall be enraptured by having presented to my view a mind with which I have so long studied to cradle! be acquainted; but, in order to give the sex a pro- This much of my dream I distinctly remember; per example, I must insist, that all the company the rest was filled with chimeras, enchanted casmay be permitted to look over my shoulder." Itles, and flying dragons, as usual. As you, my bowed assent, and presenting the glass, showed the dear Fum Hoam, are particularly versed in the inlady a mind by no means so fair as she had expect- terpretation of those midnight warnings, what ed to see. Ill-nature, ill-placed pride, and spleen, pleasure should I find in your explanation! But were too legible to be mistaken. Nothing could be that our distance prevents: I make no doubt, howmore amusing than the mirth of her female companions who had looked over. They had hated her from the beginning, and now the apartment echoed with a universal laugh. Nothing but a fortitude like her's could have withstood their raillery: she stood it, however; and when the burst was exhausted, with great tranquillity she assured the company, that the whole was a deceptio visus, and that she was too well acquainted with her own mind to believe any false representations from another. Thus saying, she retired with a sullen satisfaction, resolved not to mend her faults, but to write a criticism on the mental reflector.
ever, but that, from my description, you will very much venerate the good qualities of the English ladies in general, since dreams, you know, go always by contraries. Adieu.
From Lien Chi Altangi, to Hingpo, a Slave in Persia. * YOUR last letters betray a mind seemingly fond of wisdom, yet tempested up by a thousand various passions. You would fondly persuade me, that I must own, by this time, I began myself to sus-my former lessons still influence your conduct, and pect the fidelity of my mirror; for, as the ladies ap-yet your mind seems not less enslaved than your peared at least to have the merit of rising early, body. Knowledge, wisdom, erudition, arts, and since they were up at five, I was amazed to find elegance, what are they but the mere trappings of nothing of this good quality pictured upon their the mind, if they do not serve to increase the hapminds in the reflection; I was resolved, therefore, piness of the possessor? A mind rightly instituted to communicate my suspicions to a lady whose in- in the school of philosophy, acquires at once the tellectual countenance appeared more fair than any stability of the oak, and the flexibility of the osier. of the rest, not having above seventy-nine spots in all, besides slips and foibles. I own, young wo
*This letter appears to be little more than a rhapsody of senman," said I, "that there are some virtues upon timents from Confucius. Vide the latin translation.