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From the Same.
them by ill-nature among themselves, and subjection to new penalties; but such considerations never weigh with them.
But to recompense this strange absurdity, they It is no unpleasing contemplation, to consider are in the main generous, brave, and enterprising. the influence which soil and climate have upon the They feel the slightest injuries with a degree of disposition of the inhabitants, the animals, and ve- ungoverned impatience, but resist the greatest cagetables, of different countries. That among the lamities with surprising fortitude. Those miseries brute creation is much more visible than in man, under which any other people in the world would and that in vegetables more than either. In some sink, they have often showed they were capable of places, those plants which are entirely poisonous enduring; if accidentally cast upon some desolate at home, lose their deleterious quality by being coast, their perseverance is beyond what any other carried abroad; there are serpents in Macedonia so nation is capable of sustaining; if imprisoned for harmless as to be used as playthings for children; crimes, their efforts to escape are greater than and we are told that in some parts of Fez, there are among others. The peculiar strength of their hions so very timorous as to be scared away, though prisons, when compared to those elsewhere, arcoming in herds, by the cries of women. gues their hardiness; even the strongest prisons I
I know of no country where the influence of cli- have ever seen in other countries would be very inmate and soil is more visible than in England; the sufficient to confine the untameable spirit of an Ensame hidden cause which gives courage to their glishman. In short, what man dares do in cirdogs and cocks, gives also fierceness to their men. cumstances of danger, an Englishman will. His But chiefly this ferocity appears among the vulgar. virtues seem to sleep in the calm, and are called out The polite of every country pretty nearly resem- only to combat the kindred storm. ble each other. But, as in simpling, it is among the uncultivated productions of nature we are to examine the characteristic differences of climate and soil, so in an estimate of the genius of the people, we must look among the sons of unpolished rusticity. The vulgar English, therefore, may be easily distinguished from all the rest of the world, by superior pride, impatience, and a peculiar hardiness of soul.
But the greatest eulogy of this people is the generosity of their miscreants, the tenderness in general, of their robbers and highwaymen. Perhaps no people can produce instances of the same kind, where the desperate mix pity with injustice; still showing that they understand a distinction in crimes, and, even in acts of violence, having still some tincture of remaining virtue. In every other country, robbery and murder go almost always toPerhaps no qualities in the world are more sus-gether; here it seldom happens, except upon illceptible of a finer polish than these; artificial com- judged resistance or pursuit. The banditti of other plaisance and easy deference being superinduced countries are unmerciful to a supreme degree; the over these generally form a great character; some-highwayman and robber here are generous, at least, thing at once elegant and majestic; affable, yet in their intercourse among each other. Taking, sincere. Such, in general, are the better sort; but therefore, my opinion of the English from the virthey who are left in primitive rudeness are the least disposed for society with others, or comfort internally, of any people under the sun.
tues and vices practised among the vulgar, they at once present to a stranger all their faults, and keep their virtues up only for the inquiring eye of a philosopher.
The poor indeed of every country, are but little prone to treat each other with tenderness; their Foreigners are generally shocked at their insoown miseries are too apt to engross all their pity; lence upon first coming among them; they find and perhaps too, they give but little commiseration, themselves ridiculed and insulted in every street; as they find but little from others. But in En- they meet with none of those trifling civilities, so gland the poor treat each other upon every occa- frequent elsewhere, which are instances of mutual sion with more than savage animosity, and as if good-will, without previous acquaintance; they they were in a state of open war by nature. In travel through the country, either too ignorant or China, if two porters should meet in a narrow too obstinate to cultivate a closer acquaintance; street, they would lay down their burdens, make a meet every moment something to excite their disthousand excuses to each other for the accidental gust, and return home to characterise this as the interruption, and beg pardon on their knees; if two region of spleen, insolence, and ill-nature. In short, men of the same occupation should meet here, they England would be the last place in the world I would first begin to scold, and at last to beat each would travel to by way of amusement, but the first other. One would think they had miseries enough for instruction. I would choose to have others for resulting from penury and labour, not to increase my acquaintance, but Englismen for my friends.
From the Same.
moment! Perhaps, while I write, this dreadful change has begun. Shield me from universal ruin! Yet, idiot man laughs, sings, and rejoices, in the very face of the sun, and seems no way touched with his situation.
THE mind is ever ingenious in making its own distress. The wandering beggar who has none to Tuesday. Went to bed in great distress, awaked protect, to feed, or to shelter him, fancies complete and was comforted, by considering that this change happiness in labour and a full meal; take him from was to happen at some indefinite time; and thererags and want, feed, clothe, and employ him, his fore, like death, the thoughts of it might easily be wishes now rise one step above his station; he borne. But there is a revolution, a fixed detercould be happy were he possessed of raiment, food, mined revolution, which must certainly come to and ease. Suppose his wishes gratified even in pass; yet which, by good fortune, I shall never feel, these, his prospects widen as he ascends; he finds except in my posterity. The obliquity of the equahimself in affluence and tranquillity indeed, but in- tor with the ecliptic is now twenty minutes less dolence soon breeds anxiety, and he desires not only than when it was observed two thousand years ago to be freed from pain, but to be possessed of pleasure; by Piteas. If this be the case, in six thousand the pleasure is granted him, and this but opens his soul obliquity will be still less by a whole degree. This to ambition; and ambition will be sure to taint his being supposed, it is evident that our earth, as future happiness, either with jealousy, disappoint- Louville has clearly proved, has a motion, by which ment, or fatigue. the climates must necessarily change place, and, in
But of all the arts of distress found out by man the space of about one million of years, England for his own torment, perhaps that of philosophic shall actually travel to the Antarctic pole. I shudmisery is most truly ridiculous; a passion nowhere der at the change! How shall our unhappy grandcarried to so extravagant an excess as in the coun- children endure the hideous climate! A million of try where I now reside. It is not enough to engage years will soon be accomplished; they are but a all the compassion of a philosopher here, that his moment when compared to eternity; then shall our own globe is harrassed with wars, pestilence, or charming country, as I may say, in a moment of barbarity; he shall grieve for the inhabitants of the time, resemble the hideous wilderness of Nova moon, if the situation of her imaginary mountains Zembla! happens to alter; and dread the extinction of the sun, if the spots on his surface happens to increase. One should imagine, that philosophy was introduced to make men happy; but here it serves to make hundreds miserable.
Wednesday. To-night, by my calculation, the long predicted comet is to make its first appearance. Heavens! what terrors are impending over our little dim speck of earth! Dreadful visitation! Are we to be scorched in its fires, or only smothered in My landlady, some days ago, brought the diary the vapour of its tail? That is the question! of a philosopher of this desponding sort, who had Thoughtless mortals, go build houses, plant orlodged in the apartment before me. It contains the history of a life, which seems to be one continued tissue of sorrow, apprehension and distress. A single week will serve as a specimen of the whole.
chards, purchase estates, for to-morrow you die. But what if the comet should not come? That would be equally fatal. Comets are servants which periodically return to supply the sun with fuel. If Monday. In what a transient decaying situation our sun, therefore, should be disappointed of the are we placed; and what various reasons does phi- expected supply, and all his fuel be in the meantime losophy furnish to make mankind unhappy! A burnt out, he must expire like an exhausted taper. single grain of mustard shall continue to produce What a miserable situation must our earth be in its similitude through numberless successions; without his enlivening rays! Have we not seen yet, what has been granted to this little seed, has several neighbouring suns entirely disappear? Has been denied to our planetary system; the mustard not a fixed star, near the tail of the Ram, lately seed is still unaltered, but the system is growing been quite extinguished?
old, and must quickly fall to decay. How terrible Thursday. The comet has not yet appeared; I will it be, when the motions of all the planets have am sorry for it: first, sorry because my calculation at last become so irregular as to need repairing; is false; secondly, sorry lest the sun should want when the moon shall fall into frightful paroxysms fuel; thirdly, sorry lest the wits should laugh at our of alteration; when the carth, deviating from its an- erroneous predictions; and fourthly, sorry because, cient track, and with every other planet forgetting if it appears to-night, it must necessarily come its circular revolutions, shall become so eccentric, within the sphere of the earth's attraction; and that unconfined by the laws of system, it shall fly Heaven help the unhappy country on which it hapoff into boundless space, to knock against some dis-pens to fall!
tant world, or fall in upon the sun, either extin- Friday. Our whole society have been out, all guishing his light, or burned up by his flames in a eager in search of the comet. We have seen not
less than sixteen comets in different parts of the Butlers, Otways, and Farquhars, were all writers heavens. However, we are unanimously resolved for bread. Believe me, my friend, hunger has a to fix upon one only to be the comet expected. most amazing faculty of sharpening the genius; That near Virgo wants nothing but a tail to fit it and he who, with a full belly, can think like a hero, out completely for terrestrial admiration. after a course of fasting, shall rise to the sublimity of a demi-god.
Saturday. The moon is, I find, at her old pranks. Her appulses, librations, and other irregularities, indeed amaze me. My daughter, too, is this morning gone off with a grenadier. No way surprising; I was never able to give her a relish for wisdom. She ever promised to be a mere expletive in the creation. But the moon, the moon gives me real uneasiness; I fondly fancied I had fixed her. I had thought her constant, and constant only to me; but every night discovers her infidelity, and proves me a desolate and abandoned lover. Adieu.
From the Same.
But what will most amaze is, that this very set of men, who are now so much depreciated by fools, are, however, the very best writers they have among them at present. For my own part, were I to buy a hat, I would not have it from a stockingmaker, but a hatter; were I to buy shoes, I should not go to the tailor's for that purpose. It is just so with regard to wit: did I, for my life, desire to be well served, I would apply only to those who made it their trade, and lived by it. You smile at the oddity of my opinion; but be assured, my friend, that wit is, in some measure, mechanical; and that a man, long habituated to catch at even its resemblance, will at last be happy enough to possess the substance. By a long habit of writing he acquires a justness of thinking, and a mastery of manner, which holiday writers, even with ten times his genius, may vainly attempt to equal.
It is surprising what an influence titles shall have upon the mind, even though these titles be of our own making. Like children, we dress up How then are they deceived who expect from the puppets in finery, and then stand in astonish- title, dignity, and exterior circumstance, an excelment at the plastic wonder. I have been told of a lence which is in some measure acquired by habit, rat-catcher here, who strolled for a long time about and sharpened by necessity? You have seen, the villages near town, without finding any em-like me, many literary reputations promoted by the ployment; at last, however, he thought proper to influence of fashion, which have scarcely survived take the title of his Majesty's rat-catcher in ordinary, and this succeeded beyond his expectations: when it was known that he caught rats at court, all were ready to give him countenance and employment.
But of all the people, they who make books seem most perfectly sensible of the advantages of titular dignity. All seem convinced, that a book written by vulgar hands, can neither instruct nor improve; none but kings, chams, and mandarines, can write with any probability of success. If the titles inform me right, not only kings and courtiers, but emperors themselves, in this country, periodically supply the press.
the possessor; you have seen the poor hardly earn the little reputation they acquired, and their merit only acknowledged when they were incapable of enjoying the pleasures of popularity: such, however, is the reputation worth possessing; that which is hardly earned is hardly lost. Adieu.
From Hingpo, in Moscow, to Lien Chi Altangi, in London. WHERE will my disappointments end? Must I still be doomed to accuse the severity of my forA man here who should write, and honestly con- tune, and show my constancy in distress, rather fess that he wrote for bread, might as well send his than moderation in prosperity? I had at least hopes manuscript to fire the baker's oven; not one crea-of conveying my charming companion safe from ture will read him: all must be court-bred poets, or the reach of every enemy, and of again restoring pretend at least to be court-bred, who can expect to her to her native soil. But those hopes are now please. Should the caitiff fairly avow a design of no more. emptying our pockets and filling his own, every Upon leaving Terki, we took the nearest road reader would instantly forsake him; even those to the dominions of Russia. We passed the Ural who write for bread themselves would combine to mountains, covered with eternal snow, and traworry him, perfectly sensible that his attempts versed the forest of Ufa, where the prowling bear only served to take the bread out of their mouths. and shrieking hyena keep an undisputed possesAnd yet this silly prepossession the more amazes sion. We next embarked upon the rapid river me, when I consider, that almost all the excellent Bulija, and made the best of our way to the banks productions in wit that have appeared here, were of the Wolga, where it waters the fruitful valleys purely the offspring of necessity; their Drydens, of Casan.
had dressed the future prospect of my life in the gayest colouring; but one unexpected stroke of fortune has robbed it of every charm. Her dear idea mixes with every scene of pleasure, and witnout her presence to enliven it, the whole becomes tedious, insipid, insupportable. I will confess--now that she is lost, I will confess I loved her : nor is it
There were two vessels in company properly hands to manage her, and the whole crew carried equipped and armed, in order to oppose the Wolga by the peasants up the country. Of this, however, pirates, who, we were informed, infested this river. we were not sensible till our arrival at Moscow; Of all mankind these pirates are the most terrible. where, expecting to meet our separated bark, we They are composed of the criminals and outlawed were informed of its misfortune, and our loss. peasants of Russia, who fly to the forests that lie Need I paint the situation of my mind on this ocalong the banks of Wolga for protection. Here casion? Need I describe all I feel, when I despair they join in parties, lead a savage life, and have no of beholding the beautiful Zelis more? Fancy other subsistence but plunder. Being deprived of houses, friends, or a fixed habitation, they become more terrible even than the tiger, and as insensible to all the feelings of humanity. They neither give quarter to those they conquer, nor receive it when overpowered themselves. The severity of the laws against them serves to increase their barbarity, and seems to make them a neutral species of being, be- in the power of time, or of reason, to erase her tween the wilderness of the lion, and the subtlety image from my heart. of the man. When taken alive their punishment is hideous. A floating gibbet is erected, which is let run down with the stream: here, upon an iron hook stuck under their ribs, and upon which the whole weight of their body depends, they are left to expire in the most terrible agonies, some being thus found to linger several days successively.
From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, at Moscow." YOUR misfortunes are mine; but, as every pe
of soon dying. These are the shields with which we should arm ourselves; and thus make every scene of life, if not pleasing, at least supportable.
We were but three days' voyage from the con-riod of life is marked with its own, you must learn fluence of this river into the Wolga, when we per- to endure them. Disappointed love makes the ceived at a distance behind us an armed bark com- misery of youth; disappointed ambition, that of ing up, with the assistance of sails and oars, in manhood; and successless avarice, that of age. order to attack us. The dreadful signal of death These three attack us through life; and it is our was hung upon the mast, and our captain, with duty to stand upon our guard. To love, we ought his glass, could easily discern them to be pirates. to oppose dissipation, and endeavour to change the It is impossible to express our consternation on this object of the affections; to ambition, the happiness occasion; the whole crew instantly came together of indolence and obscurity; and to avarice the fear to consult the properest means of safety. It was, therefore, soon determined to send off our women and valuable commodities in one of our vessels, and that the men should stay in the other, and Men complain of not finding a place of repose. boldly oppose the enemy. This resolution was They are in the wrong; they have it for seeking. soon put into execution, and I now reluctantly What they should indeed complain of is, that the parted from the beautiful Zelis for the first time heart is an enemy to that very repose they seek. since our retreat from Persia. The vessel in which To themselves alone should they impute their disshe was disappeared to my longing eyes, in pro- content. They seek within the short span of life portion as that of the pirates approached us. to satisfy a thousand desires: each of which alone They soon came up; but upon examining our is insatiable. One month passes, and another strength, and perhaps sensible of the manner in comes on; the year ends, and then begins; but which we had sent off our most valuable effects, man is still unchanging in folly, still blindly conthey seemed more eager to pursue the vessel we tinuing in prejudice. To the wise man, every clihad sent away than attack us. In this manner mate, and every soil is pleasing: to him a parterre they continued to harrass us for three days, still of flowers is the famous valley of gold; to him a endeavouring to pass us without fighting. But, on little brook, the fountain of the young peach trees; the fourth day, finding it entirely impossible, and to such a man, the melody of birds is more ravishdespairing to seize the expected booty, they desisted ing than the harmony of a full concert; and the from their endeavours, and left us to pursue our tincture of the cloud preferable to the touch of the voyage without interruption. finest pencil.
Our joy on this occasion was great; but soon a disappointment more terrible, because unexpected, succeeded. The bark in which our women and
The life of man is a journey; a journey that must
This letter is a raphsody from the maxims of the philoso treasure were sent off was wrecked upon the banks pher Me. Vide Lett. curieuse et edifiante. Vide etiam Du
of the Wolga, for want of a proper number of Halde, Vol. II. p. 98.
be travelled, however bad the roads or the accom- of thy grandmother's maiden sister. The coffin modation. If, in the beginning, it is found dan- was exposed in the principal hall, in public view. gerous, narrow, and difficult, it must either grow Before it were placed the figures of eunuchs, better in the end, or we shall, by custom, learn to horses, tortoises, and other animals, in attitudes of bear its inequality. grief and respect. The more distant relations of But, though I see you incapable of penetrating the old lady, and I among the number, came to pay into grand principles, attend at least to a simile, our compliments of condolence, and to salute the adapted to every apprehension. I am mounted deceased, after the manner of our country. We upon a wretched ass, I see another man before me had scarcely presented our wax-candles and perupon a sprightly horse, at which I find some un- fumes, and given the howl of departure, when, easiness. I look behind me, and see numbers on crawling on his belly from under a curtain, out foot, stooping under heavy burdens: let me learn came the reverend Fum Hoam himself, in all the to pity their estate, and thank Heaven for my dismal solemnity of distress. Your looks were set for sorrow; your clothing consisted of a hempen Shingfu, when under misfortunes, would, in the bag tied round the neck with a string. For two beginning, weep like a child; but he soon recover-long months did this mourning continue. By ed his former tranquillity. After indulging grief night, you lay stretched on a single mat, and sat on for a few days, he would become, as usual, the the stool of discontent by day. Pious man! who most merry old man in all the province of Shansi. could thus set an example of sorrow and decorum About the time that his wife died, his possessions to our country. Pious country! where, if we do were all consumed by fire, and his only son sold not grieve at the departure of our friends for their into captivity; Shingfu grieved for one day, and sakes, at least we are taught to regret them for our the next went to dance at a mandarine's door for own. his dinner. The company were surprised to see All is very different here; amazement all! What the old man so merry, when suffering such great sort of a people am I got amongst? Fum, thou son losses; and the mandarine himself coming out, of Fo, what sort of people am I got amongst? No asked him, how he, who had grieved so much, and crawling round the coffin; no dressing up in given way to the calamity the day before, could hempen bags; no lying on mats, or sitting on stools! now be so cheerful? “You ask me one question," Gentlemen here shall put on first mourning with cries the old man, "let me answer, by asking as sprightly an air as if preparing for a birth-night; another: Which is the most durable, a hard thing, and widows shall actually dress for another husband or a soft thing; that which resists, or that which in their weeds for the former. The best jest of all makes no resistance?"-"A hard thing, to be is, that our merry mourners clap bits of muslin on sure," replied the mandarine. "There you are their sleeves, and these are called weepers. Weepwrong," returned Shingfu, "I am now fourscore ing muslin! alas, alas! very sorrowful truly! These years old; and, if you look in my mouth, you will weepers, then, it seems, are to bear the whole find that I have lost all my teeth, but not a bit of burden of the distress. my tongue." Adieu.
But I have had the strongest instance of this contrast, this tragi-comical behaviour in distress, upon a recent occasion. Their king, whose departure, though sudden, was not unexpected, died after a reign of many years. His age, and uncertain state of health, served, in some measure, to
From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the diminish the sorrow of his subjects; and their exCeremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
pectations from his successor seemed to balance THE manner of grieving for our departed friends their minds between uneasiness and satisfaction. in China is very different from that of Europe. But how ought they to have behaved on such an The mourning colour of Europe is black; that of occasion? Surely, they ought rather to have enChina white. When a parent or relation dies deavoured to testify there gratitude to their dehere, for they seldom mourn for friends, it is only ceased friend, than to proclaim their hopes of the clapping on a suit of sables, grimacing it for a few future! Surely, even the successor must suppose days, and all, soon forgotten, goes on as before; their love to wear the face of adulation, which so not a single creature missing the deceased, ex- quickly changed the object! However, the very cept, perhaps, a favourite housekeeper, or a favour- same day on which the old king died, they made ite cat. rejoicings for the new.
On the contrary, with us in China it is a very For my part, I have no conception of this new serious affair. The piety with which I have seen manner of mourning and rejoicing in a breath; of you behave, on one of these occasions, should never being merry and sad; of mixing a funeral proces be forgotten. I remember it was upon the death sion with a jig and a bonfire. At least, it would