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The truest manner of lessening our agonies, is to| shrink from their pressure; is to confess that we feel them.
From Lien Chi Altangi, to ******, Merchant in Amsterdam. The fortitude of European sages is but a dream; for where lies the merit in being insensible to the HAPPENING Some days ago to call at a painter's, strokes of fortune, or in dissembling our sensibility? to amuse myself in examining some pictures (I If we are insensible, that arises only from a happy had no design to buy), it surprised me to see a constitution; that is a blessing previously granted young Prince in the working-room, dressed in a by Heaven, and which no art can procure, no in- painter's apron, and assiduously learning the trade. stitutions improve. We instantly remembered to have seen each other;
If we dissemble our feelings, we only artificially and, after the usual compliments, I stood by while endeavour to persuade others that we enjoy privi- he continued to paint on. As every thing done leges which we actually do not possess. Thus, by the rich is praised; as Princes here, as well as while we endeavour to appear happy, we feel at in China, are never without followers, three or four once all the pangs of internal misery, and all the persons, who had the appearance of gentlemen, self-reproaching consciousness of endeavouring to were placed behind to comfort and applaud him at deceive. every stroke.
I know but of two sects of philosophers in the Need I tell, that it struck me with very disaworld that have endeavoured to inculcate that for- greeable sensations, to see a youth, who, by his statitude is but an imaginary virtue; I mean the fol- tion in life, had it in his power to be useful to lowers of Confucius, and those who profess the thousands, thus letting his mind run to waste upon doctrines of Christ. All other sects teach pride canvass, and at the same time fancying himself under misfortunes; they alone teach humility. improving in taste, and filling his rank with proNight, says our Chinese philosopher, not more per decorum. surely follows the day, than groans and tears grow out of pain; when misfortunes therefore oppress, when tyrants threaten, it is our interest, it is our duty to fly even to dissipation for support, to seek redress from friendship, or seek redress from the best of friends who loved us into being.
Philosophers, my son, have long declaimed against the passions, as being the source of all our miseries: they are the source of all our misfortunes, I own; but they are the source of our pleasures too; and every endeavour of our lives, and all the institutions of philosophy, should tend to this, not to dissemble an absence of passion, but to repel those which lead to vice, by those which direct to virtue.
As seeing an error, and attempting to redress it, are only one and the same with me, I took occasion, upon his lordship's desiring my opinion of a Chinese scroll, intended for the frame of a picture, to assure him, that a mandarine of China thought a minute acquaintance with such mechanical tritles below his dignity.
This reply raised the indignation of some, and the contempt of others: I could hear the names of Vandal, Goth, taste, polite arts, delicacy, and fire, repeated in tones of ridicule or resentment. But considering that it was in vain to argue against people who had so much to say without contradicting them, I begged leave to repeat a fairy tale. This request redoubled their laughter; but, not The soul may be compared to a field of battle, easily abashed at the raillery of boys, I persisted, where two armies are ready every moment to en- observing, that it would set the absurdity of placing counter; not a single vice but has a more powerful our affections upon trifles in the strongest point of opponent, and not one virtue but may be overborne view; and adding, that it was hoped the moral by a combination of vices. Reason guides the would compensate for its stupidity. For Heaven's bands of either host; nor can it subdue one pas-sake, cried the great man, washing his brush in sion but by the assistance of another. Thus as a water, let us have no morality at present; if we bark, on every side beset with storms, enjoys a must have a story, let it be without any moral. I state of rest, so does the mind, when influenced by pretended not to hear; and, while he handled the a just equipoise of the passions, enjoy tranquillity. brush, proceeded as follows:I have used such means as my little fortune In the kingdom of Bonbobbin, which, by the would admit to procure your freedom. I have Chinese annals, appears to have flourished twenty lately written to the governor of Argun to pay thousand years ago, there reigned a prince enyour ransom, though at the expense of all the dowed with every accomplishment which generally wealth I brought with me from China. If we be- distinguishes the sons of kings. His beauty was come poor, we shall at least have the pleasure of brighter than the sun. The sun, to which he was bearing poverty together; for what is fatigue or nearly related, would sometimes stop his course, in famine, when weighed against friendship and free-order to look down and admire him. dom. Adieu.
His mind was not less perfect than his body: he
with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other precious stones: thus he innocently spent four hours each day, in contemplating their innocent little pastimes.
knew all things, without having ever read: phi- little animals in the most beautiful cages enriched losophers, poets, and historians, submitted their works to his decision; and so penetrating was he, that he could tell the merit of a book, by looking on the cover. He made epic poems, tragedies, and pastorals, with surprising facility; song, epigram, But to proceed. The Prince and Princess were or rebus, was all one to him, though it was observ- now in bed; one with all the love and expectation, ed he could never finish an acrostic. In short, the the other with all the modesty and fear, which is fairy who had presided at his birth endowed him natural to suppose; both willing, yet afraid to bewith almost every perfection, or what was just the gin; when the Prince, happening to look towards same, his subjects were ready to acknowledge he the outside of the bed, perceived one of the most possessed them all; and, for his own part, he knew beautiful animals in the world, a white mouse with nothing to the contrary. A Prince so accomplish-green eyes, playing about the floor, and performing ed, received a name suitable to his merit; and a hundred pretty tricks. He was already master he was called Bonbennin-bonbobbin-bonbobbinet, of blue mice, red mice, and even white mice, with which signifies, Enlightener of the Sun.
As he was very powerful, and yet unmarried, all the neighbouring kings earnestly sought his alliance. Each sent his daughter, dressed out in the most magnificent manner, and with the most sumptuous retinue imaginable, in order to allure the Prince; so that at one time there were seen at his court not less than seven hundred foreign Princesses, of exquisite sentiment and beauty, each alone sufficient to make seven hundred ordinary men happy.
yellow eyes; but a white mouse with green eyes, was what he had long endeavoured to possess; wherefore, leaping from bed with the utmost impatience and agility, the youthful Prince attempted to seize the little charmer, but it was fled in a moment; for, alas! the mouse was sent by a discontented Princess, and was itself a fairy.
It is impossible to describe the agony of the Prince upon this occasion; he sought round and round every part of the room, even the bed where the Princess lay was not exempt from the inquiry: Distracted in such a variety, the generous Bon- he turned the Princess on one side and the other, bennin, had he not been obliged by the laws of the stripped her quite naked, but no mouse was to be empire to make choice of one, would very willingly found: the Princess herself was kind enough to have married them all, for none understood gal-assist, but still to no purpose. lantry better. He spent numberless hours of soli- Alas, cried the young Prince in an agony, how citude in endeavouring to determine whom he unhappy am I to be thus disappointed! never sure should choose; one lady was possessed of every was so beautiful an animal seen: I would give half perfection, but he disliked her eyebrows; another my kingdom, and my Princess, to him that would was brighter than the morning star, but he disap- find it. The Princess, though not much pleased proved her fong-whang; a third did not lay white with the latter part of his offer, endeavoured to enough on her cheek; and a fourth did not suffitiently blacken her nails. At last, after numberless disappointments on the one side and the other, he made choice of the incomparable Nanhoa, Queen of the scarlet dragons.
comfort him as well as she could: she let him know that he had a hundred mice already, which ought to be at least sufficient to satisfy any philosopher like him. Though none of them had green eyes, yet he should learn to thank heaven that they had The preparations for the royal nuptials, or the eyes. She told him (for she was a profound moenvy of the disappointed ladies, needs no descrip- ralist), that incurable evils must be borne, and that tion; both the one and the other were as great as useless lamentations were vain, and that man was they could be: the beautiful Princess was con-born to misfortunes: she even entreated him to reducted amidst admiring multitudes to the royal turn to bed, and she would endeavour to lull him couch, where, after being divested of every encum- on her bosom to repose; but still the Prince conbering ornament, she was placed, in expectance of the youthful bridegroom, who did not keep her long in expectation. He came more cheerful than the morning, and printing on her lips a burning kiss, the attendants took this as a proper signal to withdraw.
tinued inconsolable; and regarding her with a stern air, for which his family was remarkable, he vowed never to sleep in the royal palace, or indulge himself in the innocent pleasures of matrimony, till he had found the white mouse with the green eyes.
Perhaps I ought to have mentioned in the be- Prithee, Colonel Leech, cried his lordship, ingining, that, among several other qualifications, terrupting me, how do you like that nose? don't the Prince was fond of collecting and breeding you think there is something of the manner of mice, which, being a harmless pastime, none of his Rembrandt in it ?-A prince in all this agony for counsellors thought proper to dissuade him from: a white mouse, O ridiculous!-Dont you think, he therefore kept a great variety of these pretty Major Vampyre, that eyebrow stippled very pret
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 cheek more smoothly. But I ask pardon; pray, sir, proceed.
From the Same.
she was, "I promise to put you in possession of the white mouse with green eyes, and that immediately too, upon one condition." "Qne condition," cried the prince in a rapture, "C name a thousand; I shall undergo them all with pleasure." "Nay," interrupted the old fairy, "I ask but one, and that not very mortifying neither; it is only that you instantly consent to marry me."
KINGS, 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 Prindeliberations 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 that the mouse was to be caught.
ed, the prince, who was to the last degree desirous 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," self 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 hills, and down along vales, still restless, still inquiring wherever he came; but no white mouse was to be found.
woman by night, or a mouse by night, and a woman by day." Though the Prince was an excellent casuist, he was quite at a loss how to determine, but at last thought it most prudent to have recourse to a blue cat that had followed him from his own dominions, and frequently amused him with its conversation, and assisted him with its advice; in fact, this cat was no other than the faithful Princess Nanhoa herself, who had shared with him all his hardships in this disguise.
As one day, fatigued with his journey, he was shading himself from the heat of the mid-day sun, under the arching branches of a banana tree, meditating on the object of his pursuit, he perceived an old woman, hideously deformed, approaching him; by her stoop, and the wrinkles of her visage, she 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, so 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 Ernmets? 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 laws may be relaxed 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 mouse immediately to perform with the most perfect knowledge of time, and the finest grace and greatest gravity imaginable; it only began, for Nanhoa, who had long waited for the opportunity in the shape of a cat, flew upon it instantly without remorse, and eating it up in the hundredth part of a moment, broke the charm, and then resumed her natural figure.
is an effective power superior to the people, capable of enforcing obedience, whenever it may be proper to inculcate the law either towards the support or welfare of the community.
But in all those governments where laws derive their sanction from the people alone, transgressions can not be overlooked without bringing the constitution into danger. They who transgress the law 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, therepardon a hundred times. The Princess very readily forgave him; and both returning to their palace in Bonbobbin, lived very happily together, and reigned many years with all that wisdom, which, by the story, they appear to have been possessed of; perfectly convinced, by their former adventures, that they who place their affections on trifles at first for amusement, will find those trifles at last become their most serious concern.
From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
fore, the people are slaves to laws of their own making, little less than in unmixed monarchies, where they are slaves to the will of one, subject to frailties like themselves.
In England, from a variety of happy accidents, their constitution is just strong enough, or, if you will, monarchical enough to permit a relaxation of the severity of laws, and yet those laws still to remain sufficiently strong to govern the people. This is the most perfect state of civil liberty of which we can form any idea: here we see a greater number of laws than in any other country, while the people at the same time obey only such as are immediately conducive to the interests of society; several are unnoticed, many unknown; some kept to be revived and enforced upon proper occasions, others left to grow obsolete, even without the necessity
Ask an Englishman what nation in the world 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 cerple's enjoying a larger share in legislation than tain conjuncture of circumstances, he would not
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 prohibitions are useful; though it be prudent in their magistrates, and happy for the people, that they are not enforced, and none but the venal or mercenary attempt to enforce them.
If then, my friend, there should in this country ever be on the throne a king, who, through goodnature or age, should give up the smallest part of his prerogative to the people; if there should come a minister of merit and popularity-but I have room for no more. Adieu.
To the Same.
The law in this case, like an indulgent parent, 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 justice 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. The form, every diminution of the legal authority is, in gentleman made several apologies for his visit, begfact, 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 at last dissolve the political constitution.
As I am very suspicious of my company when 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 Jaws 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 confirmed 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 all our 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; I al made use of as a bribe to corruption; it might enrich the few who shared it among them, but would in fact impoverish the public.
was let the vulgar direct me; wherever popular clamour arises, I always echo the million. For 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 wrote